Study: Students get more concussions in P.E. than sports | KOB 4

Study: Students get more concussions in P.E. than sports

Patrick Hayes
September 05, 2019 10:20 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A study from the University of New Mexico says junior high and high school students in the state get more concussions in physical education than in sports.

“Our unexpected finding was that the concussion risk for students during physical education was 60% higher than for students during sports,” according to the study.

Dr. Jareau Cordell is one of the people in charge of UNM’s pediatric concussion clinic and said its patients get seen by a pediatrician, child psychologist and physical therapist.

According to Cordell, students who play sports have a higher chance of getting diagnosed with a concussion when the injury occurs.

"In the competitive sport you have coaches, specialized athletic trainers, everyone is geared towards recognizing these symptoms of a concussion,” said Cordell. “And these athletes are actually well-conditioned."

Additionally, students who get a concussion are more likely to drink and drive, get in a fight, drive without a seatbelt and attempt to commit suicide, according to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).

"I think the big thing that we're good at is recognizing when someone gets hit in the head and knocked out then they wake up and have this horrible headache,” said Cordell. “I think the symptoms that are more difficult to recognize are the emotional symptoms.”

In 2017, more than 20% of high school students had a sports or activity related concussion in the past 12 months.

And concussions were more common among high school boys than girls (23.3 percent vs. 16.9 percent).

That’s why officials with UNM’s pediatric concussion clinic said it’s important to treat the student’s mind and body.

“The idea there is that one appointment will take care of essentially coming up with a plan that the student-athlete or student can take to the school or their coach and are able to really develop a plan to get better,” said Cordell.

“Unfortunately, the worst case scenario is that kids begin to really fall apart,” said Dr. Mark Pedrotty, a pediatric psychologist at UNM. “Their academic performance begins to worsen. Their mood can worsen.”

Pedrotty told KOB 4 that parents, teachers and coaches should be on the lookout for physical and emotional symptoms.

"Because if you haven't cleared something is wrong and you're moving into post-concussion syndrome,” said Pedrotty.

According to NMDOH, more than 17 percent of high school students who got a concussion tried to commit suicide. That’s a dramatic increase compared to the 7.9 percent that did not get a concussion.

Doctors at the pediatric concussion clinic recommend getting checked out as soon as symptoms appear.

The state does have so-called “return to play” laws that are designed to protect the youth athletes in both scholastic and non-scholastic activities.

For more information on dealing with concussions, call UNM’s concussion clinic or visit


Patrick Hayes

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