Diagnoses of concussions rose to a record high between 2010 and 2015, particularly among teens, according to a new report published by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
The insurance company reports that more than 936,000 claims were filed for diagnosed concussions among its members, and that rates for adolescents between age 10 and 19 surged 71% during that time, while rates for adults increased by 26%. Most of the teen spike is due to sports, especially football, since rates increased sharply during the sport’s fall season, according to the claims data. Much of the increased diagnosis can be tied to heightened awareness of concussions and the health effects of brain injury, after states enforced laws requiring athletes who experienced brain injuries to obtain medical clearance before resuming practice or play in a game, the study authors say. Teens were five times more likely to be diagnosed with a concussion than all other age groups combined.
While adolescent males are more likely to be diagnosed than females, rates of concussions among adolescent females is also climbing, increasing by 118% during the last six years compared to a 48% rise among males.
The data also revealed that the number of people experiencing post-concussion syndrome, which include headaches and dizziness that can last for weeks after a concussion, doubled during the study's time period.
The data suggest that new laws are raising awareness of the dangers of concussion, and that more younger people are getting evaluated for concussion and post-concussion symptoms after a head injury. Such awareness, say doctors, is critical to continuing to provide proper care for concussions and limiting their potential long-term health effects, which can include serious neurological damage.