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Study Examines Effectiveness of Sports Concussion Laws

March 3, 2015

Thomas Trojian, MD, lead author of concussion law study

Recent concussion laws that set out to prevent head injuries in American teenage athletes should be extended to include the activities of summer camps, travel teams and all-star teams. This will ensure that all youths who suffer head injuries receive appropriate care and education, says Drexel sports medicine physician Thomas Trojian, MD. Trojian is the lead author of a study that showed a marked increase in the number of teenagers receiving medical treatment for sports-related concussions after laws pertaining to sports-related concussions were passed in Connecticut in 2010. The findings are published in the journal Injury Epidemiology.

The number of sports-related concussions being treated in emergency departments among American high school athletes has increased over the past decade. This is, among other reasons, because of a greater awareness that athletes with related symptoms should receive appropriate treatment. Since 2014, it has become mandatory nationwide for athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 years to be removed from play when a concussion is suspected. In such cases, an athlete must also be further evaluated by a licensed medical professional.

Connecticut was one of the first states to set laws in place to ensure the safety and the appropriate management of sports-related concussions among American high school students. Trojian's study is among the first to investigate whether such a state law has had an effect on the medical system. Trojian and his team analyzed the emergency room records of two major trauma centers in Connecticut. A marked increase in the frequency of high school students being treated for sports-related concussions was found. This went up from 2.5 visits per month prior to the law being passed, to almost six per month thereafter. This suggests that the state's sports-related concussion law has helped to improve the evaluation and detection of such injuries among high school students, by increasing obligatory emergency room visits.

"Concussion laws mandating the removal of athletes with a head injury from play might be expanded to include all organized sports, at all levels, including summer camps, travel teams and all-star teams," advises Trojian. At the time of the study, Trojian was a team physician for the University of Connecticut Athletics and served as the sports medicine advisor to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. He is now on the faculty of Drexel University College of Medicine's Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine, and is the lead physician for Drexel Athletics.

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