Concussion and Sports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Concussion and Sports - Summer

How many sports concussions occur each year?

  • An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.1
  • During 2001-2005, children and youth ages 5-18 years accounted for 2.4 million sports-related emergency department (ED) visits annually, of which 6% (135,000) involved a concussion.2

In what sports are concussions most often reported?

  • Among high school athletes, concussions are most often caused by contact with an opponent, a team mate, the ground, or a piece of equipment or object in the playing area.3
  • In organized high school sports, concussions occur more often in competitive sports, with football accounting for more than 60% of concussions.4
  • For males, the leading cause of high school sports concussion is football; for females the leading cause of high school sports concussion is soccer.4
  • Among children and youth ages 5-18 years, the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions include: bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities, and soccer.2

What is known about sports concussion risk and recovery?

  • High school athletes' recovery times for a sports concussion are longer than college athletes' recovery times.5
  • High school athletes who sustain a concussion are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion.3
  • Lack of proper diagnosis and management of concussion may result in serious long-term consequences, or risk of coma or death.6,7

How can sports concussions be prevented?

Make sure that while participating in sports or recreational activities you or your children:

  • Use the right protective equipment for the sport or activity, and be sure that it is properly fitted and maintained and worn correctly and consistently.
  • Follow safety rules and those for the sport.
  • Practice good sportsmanship at all times.

What should you do if you think you or your child has had a concussion?

  • Seek medical attention right away.
    – A health care professional will be able to decide when it is safe to return to sports.
  • Do not return to play with a known or suspected concussion until evaluated and given permission by an appropriate health care professional.
    Second concussions that occur before you have recovered can be very serious.
  • Tell your coach or child’s coach about any recent concussions.

It is better to miss one game than the whole season.

Posted on BrainLine December 11, 2008


  1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald MM. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2006;21:375-78.
  2. Department of Health and Human Services (US), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Non-fatal sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency departments – United States, 2001-2005. MMWR. 2007;56(29);733-37.
  3. Guskiewicz KM, Weaver NL, Padua DA, Garrett WE. Epidemiology of concussion in collegiate and high school football players. Am J Sports Med. 2000;28(5);643-50.
  4. Powell JW, Barber-Foss KD. Traumatic brain injury in high school athletes. JAMA. 1999;282(10);958-63.
  5. Field M, Collins MW, Lovell MR, Maroon J. Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes. J Pediatrics. 2003;142(5);546-53.
  6. Department of Health and Human Services (US), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sports-related recurrent brain injuries – United States. MMWR. 1997;46(10):224-27.
  7. Buzzini SRR, Guskiewicz KM. Sport-related concussion in the young athlete. Curr Opin Pediatrics. 2006;18:376-82.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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