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More Mass. Schools, Student-Athletes Reporting Sports-Related Head Injuries

Middle and high school student-athletes in Massachusetts suffered more than 4,400 sports-related head injuries during the 2012-13 school year, according to data from the state health department obtained by the Boston Globe.

The state's youth-concussion law, passed in 2010, requires school or district personnel to maintain records of all student-athlete head injuries and submit that data to the health department at the end of each school year.

During the 2011-12 school year, a total of 164 schools—about a quarter of the total number of middle and high schools in the state—completed and returned the form. Those 164 schools reported nearly 3,000 sports-related head injuries that school year.

This past school year, roughly 360 private and public schools sent their sports-related head injury data to the state health department, according to the Globe, reporting more than 4,400 injuries. The state does not require schools to deliver sport-by-sport concussion information; schools are only asked the total number of athletic head injuries sustained during each individual school year.

The rising number of head injuries isn't necessarily cause for concern, however. Given the increase in the number of schools sending in their data, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a greater number of injuries were reported.

"That's good news, not bad news," said Carlene Pavlos, the director of the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention at the state's department of public health, according to the Globe. "It's not that they weren't happening before; it's that there was less awareness and less identification."

That sentiment has been echoed by experts previously. A study presented back in May 2012 at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting found the number of youth concussions diagnosed in emergency rooms to have more than doubled over the past 10 years. The study's lead author, Dr. Jeffrey Colvin, said that "the higher rate of concussion diagnoses is a good sign that public education efforts have been working."

The Globe has a school-by-school breakdown of the number of reported sports-related head injuries compiled here in a handy chart. Boston College High School, which has students in grades 7 through 12, led the way with 63 injuries, followed by Needham High School (58 injuries) and Andover High School (55 injuries).

Nationwide, more than 163,000 children ages 19 and younger went to emergency rooms in 2012 for sports-related concussions, according to a report released earlier this year by the sports-safety organization Safe Kids Worldwide. Twenty percent of all injury-related emergency department visits for children between the ages of 6 and 19 could be attributed to sports-related injuries, the report found.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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