Private School Students Reported Experiencing More Concussions than Public Students in PINK Concussions Study

NORWALK, Conn., June 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In a new study of 2,047 New England private high school students-athletes published in the…

NORWALK, Conn., June 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In a new study of 2,047 New England private high school students-athletes published in the Journal of School Health, 33% of students self-reported experiencing a concussion in their lifetime. This study is significant as most of the surveillance information about concussions has been conducted with samples of public school students. In a 2018 national study, 15% of high school students reported having at least one sport- or recreation-related concussion in the past 12 months.1 

Similar to findings in public school studies, the students in this study who were at risk of an increased incidence of concussion included males, students playing contact sports, and those participating in multiple sports seasons.

However, the private schools in this study mandated all students participate in a sport or athletic activity. Although there are many benefits to sports participation, this universal policy for all students could also potentially increase exposure to injury and concussion.

Additionally, all schools in this study had at least one or more full-time certified athletic trainer on staff. Studies have suggested the presence of athletic trainers can specifically increase concussion reporting among students.2,3 A large study of public and private high schools found that only 35% of schools have full-time athletic training services and an additional 30% of schools have only part-time services.4

And finally, the composition of sports and requirement for sports participation in this study is likely not representative of public high schools. For example, private schools often offer a variety of athletic options (e.g., hockey, crew, sailing, squash) not typically found in public schools. In this study, football, the most commonly played sport among high school boys, was not even ranked in the top 10 for the primary sport played among student athletes in this sample.

More research is warranted to assess the risk and prevalence of concussion among adolescents in different school settings to provide evidence-based concussion prevention strategies and management information.

1-5 Reference link

This article, «Concussion experiences in a sample of New England private preparatory high school students who played sports or recreational activities» by Daugherty J, Waltzman, D, Snedaker KP, Bouton J, Zhang X, Wang D, was published online ahead of print issue June 10, 2020.

The findings and conclusions in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ABOUT PINK Concussions

PINK Concussions is a non-profit organization to focus on pre-injury education and post-injury medical care for women and girls with concussions from sport, domestic violence, accidents or military service. Its mission is to drive change and innovation to develop and implement sex-specific/gender-responsive, evidence-based strategies for the identification, management and support of women and girls with brain injuries. More info on this study can be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.


Katherine Snedaker 



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