Texas Launches Major Youth Athlete Concussion Study

Texas is launching a major program to track brain injuries among young athletes, an initiative that officials call the nation’s largest such effort to date.

The program is meant to determine what more can be done to protect young athletes and whether rules or equipment changes are needed to improve player safety, the Associated Press reported.

The effort is a partnership between the University Interscholastic League — the state’s governing body for public high school sports — and the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The program will include student-athletes in about two dozen sports and collect data such as concussion causes and recovery time.

“Until we understand what the frequency of concussions is across the state, or a region of the state, we can’t determine when rule changes, equipment changes or things like recovery programs are really being effective,” said study leader Dr. Munro Cullum, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and neurotherapeutics, the AP reported.

Texas has more than 800,000 public high school athletes, so this project would be an important part of developing a national database of brain injuries in young athletes, officials said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to get federal funding for a similar database, the AP reported.

Up to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities nationwide each year, according to CDC estimates. But, some experts believe the actual number may be higher because many people don’t seek treatment for mild or moderate concussion symptoms.

Other states have also collected data on concussions. For example, a recent study in Michigan found that 755 schools reported 4,452 head injuries in the 2015-16 school year. Most — 1,907 — occurred in football, while girls’ basketball was second with 454, the AP reported.