Poll: A Quarter of Americans Experience a Concussion in Their Lifetimes

Brain CTE

Based on the findings of a new brain health survey, almost one in four Americans experienced a concussion in their lifetime.

The poll, which finds mild traumatic brain injuries not all that unusual, likely reorients the concussion debate surrounding contact sports.

According to the NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll, of the 23% of Americans claiming concussion sometime in their life, over 75% of them said they sought medical treatment for the injury.

Dr. Christopher Giza, director of the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT program contends that mild brain injuries are quite common and that human beings are well adapted to deal with such occurrences.

According to the study, almost half of the concussion recipients said they had just one in their lifetime, while over a third of those surveyed said they had two or three. Sixteen percent suffered four or more concussive traumas.

The New York Times, ESPN, and other media outlets slammed the NFL last week for encouraging the National Institutes of Health to use the bulk of its $30 million grant for a longitudinal study attempting to discover what happens to athletes over time that suffer from concussions. The NIH wanted to use the money to fund critics of the NFL seeking to find a way to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the living, a project linked to a for-profit scheme among a competing group of scientists.

WVAS-FM reports,  “Concussions are brain injuries caused by a blow to the head or a force that causes the brain to move quickly within the skull.”  Loss of consciousness, headache, vomiting, confused thinking, clumsiness, feeling dazed, blurred vision are common symptoms of concussions, according to WEB MD.

Giza, who co-authored the American Academy of Neurology’s guideline on sports and concussions, said: “Many of the symptoms associated with concussions are subjective.” He added,“We still don’t have a gold standard definition. Many of the symptoms of concussion, out of the context of being hit in the head, are quite common.”

Of those polled, 43 percent said that their concussions occurred while playing a contact sport. Of course, this varied greatly by age. About two-thirds of those under 35 had a sports-related concussion while only 15 percent of those over 65 suffered concussions while playing sports. Almost three-quarters, 72 percent, of children’s concussions occurred in a contact sport.

Significantly, 84 percent of households who had a child with a sports induced concussion say they would not ban the sport responsible for the injury.

In 2015, a federal judge approved a near-billion-dollar payoff to retired players in a class-action lawsuit against the NFL. Thousands of former players claimed serious medical conditions associated with repeated concussions, linking the traumas to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The suit included hundreds of players who never played a down in an official NFL game, kickers who competed in a few contests, and replacement players from the 1987 strike.

The 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sports noted in 2012 “that a cause and effect relationship has not as yet been demonstrated between CTE and concussions or exposure to contact sports.”


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