Concussion awareness has skyrocketed. And as we’re learning, it’s a good thing.

More school athletic departments are making players sit out following head injuries. More parents are seeking immediate medical treatment when their child suffers a head injury. And more lawsuits are targeting sports organizations at all levels – organizations that in the past, downplayed the serious nature of head injuries. And then there’s the media, where the number of concussion-related stories is growing exponentially.

Now we have further proof of what this new awareness has accomplished. A study conducted by the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology took a hard look at the hard data – meaning the school studied insurance figures for youth aged 12 to 18-year-olds over six years. The goal was to learn whether concussion laws were having any effect. Well, they are. The number of children who received medical treatment for concussions increased 92 percent in states with concussion legislation. And it increased 75 percent in states without regulation.

This is good evidence that when education and legislation work together, children are healthier.

Some of the other key findings of the study:

  • In states without concussion laws, treatment rates rose about 20 percent each year after 2009. In states with concussion laws, treatment rates rose an additional 13 percent.
  • In states without concussion laws, the rates of treated concussions went up seven percent between 2009 and 2010. Those rates increased 20 percent by 2011 and 34 percent by 2012.

Since I’ve been writing about concussions, we’ve seen lots of changes in both sports and medicine. We’re learning how tracking eye movements can yield evidence of concussion. We’re also learning more about how to detect brain injury. As reported by the American Academy of Neurology, the King-Devick test, when combined with two more comprehensive tests for concussion, could detect 100 percent of 30 concussions. This particular study was conducted among 217 college athletes with a concussion rate of nearly 14 percent – that’s greater than one in 10!

Baseline testing, whether it’s the King-Devick or others, is important to detect changes associated with concussions. Testing does not need to be expensive or time consuming. King-Devick can be administered in a matter of minutes.

We’re learning more all the time, which is great news going into 2015. But I want to remind everyone that there is no single test that replaces an experienced medical professional in diagnosing, treating and managing concussions.

At Impact Urgent Care (http://iuc.nextcare.com) we have experienced professionals to evaluate and care for your student athletes who suffer head injuries. Proper care is important to reduce the risk of further injury, as we know this can lead to prolonged and even permanent symptoms.

Take this opportunity to schedule a free baseline concussion test for 2015!

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