And We’re Off……

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The author and colleague attending
to downed football player

The college football season began here in the USA last night, and the high school football season begins here in Ohio tonight.  I’ll be on the sidelines tonight and every week for the next 10 weeks….or more, if the team I cover makes the playoffs. Ohio Dominican University, the college whose sports our group covers, has been picked to do well this year, and I think the Panthers will, if they stay injury-free.    I hope all the players we’re involved with, high school and college, can stay as safe as can be expected.

The American football season represents the busiest time of our year. This stands to reason, of course, as both injury and participation rates in the sport consistently ‘top the charts’ in almost any study looking into the matter.  My friend and colleague R. Dawn Comstock, Ph.D., whom I mention frequently in these blog posts because of the many articles she has published, authored one such study in the Journal of Athletic Training, 2008:  ‘An Epidemiologic Comparison of High School Sports Injuries Sustained in Practice and Competition.’  Of all the sports studied, football had the highest competition and practice injury rates: 12.09 and 2.54 per 1000 athlete-exposures, respectively.  And as for participation, over 1 million high schoolers and nearly 80,000 college  students play football each year.   Combine these high participation rates and injury rates, and you have lots of bodies to attend to in the fall here in America.

It can be a brutal sport.  Boden et al. published a fine study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine this spring, “Fatalities in High School and College Football Players,” where he and his colleagues looked at the epidemiologic data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research from 1990 to 2010.  They found that football is associated with the highest number of fatalities for any sport reported to the Center, with 243 fatalities reported during the study period.  The reported rates of fatality were 1.0 per 100,000 participants.  They found, too, that college football was riskier, with 2.5 deaths per 100,000 participants for collegiate athletes, as compared with 0.9 deaths per 100,000 in high schoolers.

The theme for August here at the CJSM blog and at the mother journal herself has been “Concussion.”  The blog posts for this month have all focused on this issue, and the journal has made freely available this month a set of ten high quality concussion research articles it has published recently in a special concussion “collection.”  And so I would be remiss, with two days left in this month, if I did not briefly mention concussion injury rates in the sport of football.  Again, I will turn to the exceedingly productive Dr. Comstock, who reported in 2007 on “Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes.”  Once again, the sport of football tops the injury rate charts, with Comstock’s group reporting rates for high school football players of  1.55 per 1000 athlete exposures; for the collegiate players the rates, as they are for fatalities, are higher, with 3.02 concussions per 1000 athlete exposures.

Time to start reviewing the Zurich consensus statement on Concussion in Sport.

With August’s end, we won’t stop talking about concussion, of course.  It is one of the most newsworthy items in the current field of clinical sports medicine, and I can tell you (having had a sneak peek at the upcoming September edition), that there are some excellent original research articles on the subject being published in CJSM in the next week.  I also have a “Question and Answer” blog post with the illustrious William Meehan, M.D., Director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, coming for the blog in September.  So keep your eyes on these pages, the journal’s website, and follow us on Twitter @cjsmonline (join the 2000+ who already do).  We’ll keep you up-to-date on the news and research relevant to you in your clinical practice of sports medicine.

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Friday Night Lights,
may you and yours be safe this season.

I sign off knowing that many of the readers of this blog will be on sidelines and in training rooms this fall, and I wish you all good luck.  All the fall sports, and especially football, will keep you busy I know.  May you, and the athletes you care for, enjoy health–or recover quickly from injury–under the lights this fall.

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About sportingjim
I work at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio USA, where I am a specialist in pediatric sports medicine. My academic appointment as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics is through Ohio State University. I am a public health advocate for kids' health and safety. I am also the Emerging Media Editor for the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

One Response to And We’re Off……

  1. Pingback: Sudden Death on the Playing Field | Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine Blog

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