Reported Concussion Rates for Three Division I Football Programs: An Evaluation of the New NCAA Concussion Policy

Kelly G Kilcoyne, Jonathan F Dickens, Steven J Svoboda, Brett D Owens, Kenneth L Cameron, Robert T Sullivan, John-Paul Rue
Sports Health 2014, 6 (5): 402-5

BACKGROUND: There has been increased interest in the number of concussions occurring in college football over the past year. In April 2010, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) published new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of concussions in student athletes.

PURPOSE: To determine the number of concussions that occurred on 3 collegiate Division I military academy football teams prior to and following recent changes in the NCAA concussion management policy.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.

METHODS: Injury reports were reviewed from 3 Division I military academy football teams. The number of concussions that occurred over the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons, including those sustained in practice and game situations, was determined for each team. Incidence rates were compared using the exact binomial method.

RESULTS: The combined concussion incidence rate doubled from 0.57 per 1000 athlete exposures in the 2009-2010 season to 1.16 per 1000 athlete exposures in the 2010-2011 season (incidence rate ratio, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.2-3.55; P = 0.01). The combined numbers of concussions for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons were 23 (40,481 exposures) and 42 (36,228), respectively.

CONCLUSION: The combined incidence rate of concussions for the 2010-2011 season doubled from the previous season after the implementation of new NCAA policies on concussion management. While the institution of a more formalized concussion plan on the part of medical staff is one possible factor, another may have been the increased recognition and reporting on the part of players and coaches after the rule change.

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