UCLA neuroscientist Mayumi Prins is among the co-authors of a study, published today, which found that concussion rates are higher among high school athletes than among their collegiate counterparts in some sports, and calls for further study of sports concussions among children.
The report, by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, describes a "culture of resistance" in reporting concussions among young athletes that may be endangering their health.
"We hope that our in-depth report on concussions in youth sports will inform the public about the latest scientific findings, identify areas where gaps exist in our understanding of concussion and increase appreciation for the seriousness of head injuries in the younger brain," said Prins, associate professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of education for the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.
The report examines concussions that occurred among athletes aged 5 to 21 participating in a wide range of sports. Researchers found that concussion rates in high school football, boys' lacrosse, boys' soccer and baseball are higher than for those sports at the collegiate level, and that concussions are more likely during competition than practice, although the reverse was true for cheerleading.
The study also found that although helmets currently being worn by young athletes are effective in reducing other injuries, there was not enough evidence to show that they reduce the risk of concussions — and that other protective devices that manufacturers claim minimize risk for concussion, such as mouth guards and soccer headbands, may not actually do so.
Read the full report on the National Academies Press website, and read the National Academies' announcement about the study.