Doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center are concerned about a new poll that suggests half of Valley adults believe high school sports are less dangerous than professional sports.
Javier Cárdenas, MD, neurologist and brain injury expert at Barrow, says that while the perception is that high school sports are less dangerous, the incidence of injury is far greater in high school athletes than in professional athletes.
“While there’s much talk about concussion because of the Super Bowl this weekend, it’s important to remember what is happening in high school sports,” says Dr. Cárdenas. “There are a number of reasons why high school athletes are becoming injured during play more often than professional athletes. There’s a large discrepancy between weight and skill among high school athletes, there’s more hitting in high school football than in professional football, and there are fewer healthcare providers involved in treating high school sporting injuries.”
Only 10 percent of those surveyed said high school sports were more dangerous that professional sports. Men were more likely than women to misjudge the high number of injuries involved in high school sports.
The poll conducted by St. Joseph’s also revealed that while only 36 percent of Valley adults know someone who has suffered a concussion, 47 percent of adults said they know someone who have had their “bell rung”.
“Many individuals still don’t know that having your “bell rung” is indeed a concussion. This poll tells us that we need to continue our efforts to educate about the brain injury,” says Dr. Cárdenas.
Concussions are on the rise. Since 2001, there has been a 62 percent increase in ER visits from reported concussions. Dr. Cárdenas believes that the increase is due to recent awareness. “Before we began educating about concussion, many would ignore their symptoms and not seek medical help right away. We know now that concussion can turn into a serious condition if not treated immediately.”
Barrow has taken the lead in the United States on education and awareness of concussion. Barrow Brainbook is the nation’s first mandated education and test for student athletes. Under this program, Arizona became the first in the United States to mandate all male and female student athletes undergo concussion education and pass a formal test before play.
The Barrow Concussion Network, the nation’s most comprehensive concussion prevention, treatment and education program for student athletes, was also recently created. The network is a partnership between Barrow, the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Arizona Cardinals and A.T. Still University.
“Arizona is a really taking the nation’s lead on concussion education and prevention,” says Dr. Cárdenas. “The state has the most comprehensive concussion programs to keep our student athletes safe.”
The telephone poll was conducted with 348 adults in January 2013 by West Group. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent. — Barrow
Dr. Cárdenas is available for interviews Thursday, Friday and this weekend. Please call Carmelle Malkovich 602.406.3319 to schedule before 5 p.m. on Friday.