Q&A: How will Texas’ statewide concussion registry have impact?

DALLAS – December 12, 2016 – The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute has launched a statewide concussion registry in Texas, the nation’s largest state effort to track concussions among youth athletes. Here’s a look at how the ConTex registry works and what it could mean for understanding brain injuries in youth athletics:

Q. How common are concussions in youth sports?

A. Researchers don’t yet have the data needed to fully answer this question, but some studies have indicated concussions are more common among youth. Using hospital records, the CDC has found that children under age 15 account for the largest group of people visiting the emergency room for traumatic brain injury. Until researchers get a handle on how many concussions are occurring in the state, they cannot assess whether changes in rules, equipment, etc., are having an impact on the incidence of this injury.

Q. How will it work?

A. Middle schools and high schools across Texas will report concussion cases that occur in all UIL-sanctioned athletic events, including practices and games. Athletic trainers or other school personnel will report – via app or an online site – several details of each case such as gender, concussion history and what caused the injury.

Q. How will the data be used?

A. Researchers will measure how often concussions occur in each sport, identify areas with low rates, and examine whether certain practices are helping to reduce concussions or shorten recovery times in those areas. Other trends and action plans may be identified as the registry expands. 

concussions graphic
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Q. What’s the significance of this project?

A. The registry will fill a major gap in concussion research. While the NCAA, NHL, NFL and other leagues are tracking the issue in the college and professional ranks, little has been done on a scale as large as Texas to evaluate concussions in youth athletics.  The expansive dataset is expected to give substantial insight into the prevalence of concussions in youth sports and could be a key step in creating a national registry. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is seeking federal funding to establish one.

Q. Do other states have statewide concussion registries for all sports?

A. All 50 states have passed legislation in recent years to address concussions in youth athletics, but few have successfully launched statewide registries to track such injuries in all sports. Hawaii, for instance, launched a registry in 2010. Colorado, Arizona and Maine have more recently launched their own, and others are working on it. Texas is the largest with more than 800,000 students participating in high school athletics.

Q. What other projects exist in Texas to assess concussions in youth?

A. The O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center modeled the statewide registry after a smaller yet more detailed concussion study (ConTex1) it launched last year that tracks concussions in UIL sports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of almost 2,800 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.

About the University Interscholastic League

The University Interscholastic League was created by The University of Texas at Austin to provide leadership and guidance to public school debate and athletic teachers. Since 1910 the UIL has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. The UIL exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests. The UIL continues to operate as part of The University of Texas at Austin, under the auspices of the Vice President for Diversity & Community Engagement. For more information, please visit www.uiltexas.org.

UT Southwestern Media contact: James Beltran

UIL Media Contact: Kate Y. Hector


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