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Concussions are Serious Regardless of the Location of the Hit, Study Reports

Update Date: Aug 11, 2014 12:57 PM EDT

More research surrounding concussions have linked this form of head injury to future risk of mental health illnesses. In a new study, researchers examined the severity of concussions in high school football players. They found that regardless of where an athlete gets hit on the head, concussions are serious.

"We were actually a little bit surprised," researcher Dawn Comstock told Reuters Health. "Based on some of our prior research, we expected to see some differences. We wanted a more complete understanding of concussion in high school football."

In this study, Comstock and colleagues from the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Colorado at Denver analyzed data taken from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study. The data totaled 2,526 football-related concussions that occurred during the 2008-2009 and 2012-2013 seasons.

The team calculated that the most common cause of a concussion was a hit to the front of the head at 45 percent. The second most common cause was a hit to the side of the head followed by a hit to the back of the head. The least common cause of a concussion was a hit to the top of the head. Despite the different causes of a concussion, the researchers found that the symptoms, the duration of the symptoms and the amount of time athletes had to remain off of the field were relatively the same. The researchers noted, however, that athletes who suffered a blow to the top of their heads were more likely to lose consciousness.

"We can't predict which athletes are more likely to have more severe symptoms or worse outcomes based only on how their injuries occur," Comstock said. "Every clinician needs to take every concussion very seriously. What we can say is that these findings definitely support the call to take the head out of the game if you will."

Comstock added that the study's findings are meant to educate coaches, doctors, parents and teachers about the importance of treating concussions. These findings are not meant to discourage children from participating in sports.

The study, "Impact Locations and Concussion Outcomes in High School Football Player-to-Player Collisions," was published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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