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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Rutgers: Study Examines School Health Professionals Reporting Concussions Via Online High School Surveillance

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health, New Jersey Safe Schools Program study, examined student-athlete concussion incidence reporting data by certified athletic trainers (ATC) and school nurses at public secondary schools and high schools throughout New Jersey for three consecutive school years (2015-2018). This study is an attempt to address gaps in youth concussion and symptom surveillance in the U.S.

Over the duration of the three-year study, 300 concussions were reported. Concussions occurred most commonly in fall, likely because of the high proportion of male student athletes participating in football. Football players comprised many of the total reported incidents, but sports such a soccer and cheerleading also contributed to many of the reported concussions.

The researchers also analyzed the number of post-concussion symptoms reported within a week of injury to compare symptoms reported by ATC and school nurses.

Each year 300,000 head injuries, 90 percent of which are concussions, occur among high school students. Many concussion incidences are underreported. It is crucial for school health professionals to be able to rapidly identify concussions in order to initiate care and treatment.

“The need for full- time and accessible school appointed health-care professionals to the student body, which includes the student athletes, is crucial,” said lead author, Mr. Lauren Gonzalez, a staff member at the New Jersey Safe Schools Program. “The school ATC is commonly available after school hours when play typically takes place as opposed to school nurses, who may only be able to see the student during school hours,” added Dr. Derek Shendell, faculty at Rutgers School of Public Health and senior study author.

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