Healthcare professional involvement and RTP compliance in high school athletes with concussion
Objectives: To describe concussion rates in high school athletes and involvement of healthcare professionals in concussion diagnosis, management and compliance with return to play (RTP) guidelines.
Methods: Data were analysed from injury reports in the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System between 2009/2010 and 2012/2013 to identify student athletes with concussion and determine compliance with RTP guidelines. Compliance with RTP guidelines was examined using logistic regression, adjusting for sport and injury-related variables.
Results: There were 5611 concussions recorded during 15 712 475 athlete exposures (AEs), a rate of 3.6 concussions per 10 000 AEs. Rates were higher during competition and among girls compared to boys in gender equitable sports. Healthcare professionals were less likely to be present at the time of concussion for girls’ sports, lower competition levels and practices. Compliance with RTP guidelines was higher for athletes with recurrent concussions, those sustained in collision sports, for athletes reporting more symptoms and when a physician made the RTP decision.
Conclusions: Presence of healthcare professionals and compliance with RTP guidelines varied by sport, gender, level of play and exposure type. High school athletes with concussion are best served by assessment teams with athletic trainers and physicians working together to manage concussions and contribute to RTP decisions.