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UM study says 1 in 5 teens report at least one concussion

A picture of two boys in full pads playing football.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Assistant research professor Philip Veliz says adolescents who play contact sports were even more likely to report concussions.

One in five teenagers responding to a survey have been diagnosed with a concussion at least once, according to a study published today by University of Michigan researchers.

Surveyors asked more than 13,000 teenagers from around the United States if they had ever been diagnosed with a concussion. Assistant research professor Philip Veliz says the prevalence of concussions among adolescents isn’t a topic that’s been researched much at all.

“This was to kind of fill in a gap of basically our understanding,” Veliz said. “[To learn] the percent of adolescents that have sustained a concussion during their lifetime.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The research was part of the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, a larger national University of Michigan survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Veliz says he thinks the public has become more aware of concussions, and he thinks people who sustain head injuries might be more willing to follow-up with a doctor, which could lead to more concussion diagnoses.

“What did shock me a little bit was the number of adolescents that participated in a contact sport that indicated having a concussion during their lifetime,” Veliz said.

He says 31.5 percent of respondents who reported playing contact sports also reported at least one concussion diagnosis. White people and males were also more likely to report being diagnosed with a concussion.

According to Veliz, a cadre of the oldest teenagers surveyed – 12th graders – will be monitored over the next several years. Some in the group have reported concussions and some haven’t, and he hopes to learn whether the teens that have reported concussions develop health complications later on. 

Tyler Scott is the weekend afternoon host at Michigan Public, though you can often hear him filling in at other times during the week. Tyler started in radio at age 18, as a board operator at WMLM 1520AM in Alma, Michigan, where he later became host of The Morning Show.
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