One-third of Arizona high school seniors playing sports has had a concussion.
That's one of the findings of the first statewide concussion survey of Arizona teenagers, ages 14 through 18.
“That’s quite alarming,” Barrow Neurological Institute concussion expert Dr. Javier Cardenas said. “That’s more than we expected.”
The findings were released Friday morning at a press briefing at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.
As the fall sports season begins at high schools throughout the Valley, Cardenas says 79 percent of those teens surveyed would tell their coach if they suffered a concussion.
He said 30 percent would tell their parents. About 13 percent would let the athletic play continue before reporting it. And 4 percent would not report it at all.
About one-quarter of students polled said they’ve never been taught anything about concussion risks or prevention.
Cardenas said the survey also revealed fear of concussions kept one in four boys off the playing field. One in 10 girls avoided playing soccer because of that same fear, the survey found.
Cardenas said there are several common ways athletes suffer a concussion. The risk rises when an athlete dives to the ground or gets hit in the head with a volleyball or soccer ball. Football players face the risk when there’s helmet to helmet contact or when they fall to the ground.
Two student athletes at Friday’s press conference described their experiences.
Bianca Feix, 13, said last year, she was hit in the head with a volleyball. She said she brushed it off and kept playing.
“It wasn’t until later that night that I started having symptoms of a concussion, like headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light.”
She said she went to the ER, where she learned she had suffered a concussion.
The injury kept her home from school until October. The following month, she was back playing sports.
Andrew Wachtel, 15, was more recently injured.
“I got a concussion about a week ago during football practice. We were doing a blocking drill and I accidentally bashed heads with a defensive player.”
Wachtel said he ended up sitting out for the rest of the practice. He didn’t realize he had suffered a concussion until symptoms started showing up.
“I started feeling nauseous and I had problems with my vision and I couldn’t think clearly.”
He told his parents and went to the ER.
“We have lowered the threshold for the diagnosis of concussion in our assessment,” Cardenas said.
He noted 90 percent of concussions occur without the loss of consciousness. Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.