Massachusetts Leads the U.S. in Youth Concussion Diagnoses

Numbers are way up nationwide, according to a report from Blue Cross Blue Shield.


Photo via Biczó

A new report from Blue Cross Blue Shield is not likely to soothe Massachusetts parents. According to the data, the Commonwealth saw more diagnosed youth concussions last year than any other state in the country.

The problem isn’t only a local one, though. The report says concussion diagnoses for kids ages 10 through 19 are up—way up—nationwide, increasing by 71 percent between 2010 and 2015. In Massachusetts, youth diagnoses soared by 82 percent during that timeframe, leading to 27.5 confirmed cases per 1,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield members. Adult concussions are up too, increasing by 43 percent nationwide for everyone under the age of 65.

The report does note, however, that the skyrocketing numbers don’t automatically mean more people are suffering concussions, only that more are being diagnosed. The figures likely reflect better awareness, more media coverage about head injuries and ensuing conditions like CTE, and new sports safety laws that require medical clearance before returning to play. Still, the variation between states—localized data spans Massachusetts’ 27.5 youth diagnoses per 1,000 members, all the way down to Mississippi’s seven diagnoses per 1,000—suggests that awareness campaigns may be stronger in certain areas.

The report also suggests that sports are, indeed, a major culprit of concussions. Youth rates spiked in the fall, the season when injury-heavy sports such as football and soccer are played.

The data is a troubling look at the prevalence of traumatic brain injury, but local parents can at least take comfort in the fact that Massachusetts is home to some of the best concussion specialists and clinics in the country.

You can see the full report here.