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Michigan Collects Concussion Data from Member Schools

By Cody Porter on February 08, 2016 hst Print

As a part of its new initiatives related to concussions, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) is the first state high school association to collect comprehensive concussion data from its member schools.

Data reported by 744 (99 percent) MHSAA member schools at the end of the fall sports season revealed that two percent of more than 100,000 high school athletes had experienced a concussion. The initial data reported an average of 3.2 concussions per school, while 52 percent reported having two or fewer concussions during the fall. The MHSAA said 27 percent of its member schools did not report a single athlete who had experienced a concussion due to activity in a MHSAA-sanctioned sport.

The concussion reporting pilot program is one of three initiatives related to concussion care by the MHSAA, which also includes sideline testing and insurance.

“The intent of these pilot programs is as a learning experience for the MHSAA, schools and vendors – all while increasing general awareness of the need for improved sideline concussion recognition, reporting and recordkeeping,” said MHSAA Assistant Director Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, who has oversight of MHSAA Concussion Initiatives. “From this information, we can receive more detail about each situation and also how sideline concussion detection tools can work effectively or more effectively at the interscholastic level.”

Sixty-two of the MHSAA’s member schools also took part in either the King-Devick Test or the XLNTbrain Sport program during the fall.

“The MHSAA sought a diverse selection of member schools to participate in tests of products and systems that have been designed to assist the decision-making process when student-athletes might possibly have sustained a concussion during practice or competition,” Vruggink Westdorp said.

The most-played MHSAA fall sport, football, accounted for 79 percent of the concussions for the period with boys soccer following at an estimated 11 percent of reported concussions. Participants of these sports and others now have the opportunity to take advantage of insurance provided by the MHSAA, which is the first state association to do so. The insurance is intended to cover accident medical expense benefits, which cover deductibles and co-pays stemming from head injuries that occur during school practices or competitions. The MHSAA reported 34 insurance policy claims had been made through the fall season and consisted of 20 football-related claims and 11 via soccer.

“These three efforts combined are part of making our good programs better,” said MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts. “We’re pleased to provide these services to our schools, and we anticipate having a comprehensive report after the end of the school year, with that data then used by the NFHS and research institutions to continue to make our games safer.”

Vruggink Westdorp said based on feedback from pilots and member schools, the MHSAA is discovering that more concussions are being reported due to what each school is now learning via the program. Further feedback was gained by the MHSAA via a postseason survey taken by school personnel. According to Vruggink Westdorp, many of the survey’s comments emphasized the importance of administrators and student-athletes learning about concussion dangers.

“These latest in a long line of health and safety initiatives will establish a baseline, and eventually allow us to determine if we are making progress year-to-year in Michigan school sports in this critical area of health and safety,” Roberts said.