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  • 'High Rate of Concussions' Found in High School Lacrosse

    Lacrosse has been cited as the fastest-growing high school sport—and it's precisely that popularity that demands a closer look at injury patterns, according to a new study of student athletes that found significant rates of injury among both boys and girls.

    In what authors claim is the first study to use a large national sample of high school lacrosse players, researchers identified competition injury rates of 3.61 per 1,000 athlete exposures (AE) for boys, and 2.26 for girls. Of injuries sustained in both competition and practice, 35.6% of boys suffered strains and sprains, and 21.9% experienced concussions. For girls, the strain/sprain rate was 43.9%, with a concussion rate of 22.7%. The data was gathered from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System from 2008 to 2012, and reported in an article appearing online in the July 22 edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (abstract only available for free).

    Among other findings in the study:

    • Of 1,406 injuries, 56.8% occurred during competition, with 67.1% sustained by boys.
    • Concussion rates were markedly higher in competition than in practice, with an injury rate of 1.04 per 1,000 AEs in games, compared with a practice rate of .17.
    • Nearly 72% of all athletes returned to activity in less than 3 weeks, with 14.4% returning to play within 1 to 2 days.
    • A total of 8.3% of injuries resulted in disqualification for the season, with strains/sprains accounting for 51.5% of those disqualifications, and concussions making up 19.7%.
    • Surgery was required for 6.9% of all injured players, with 43.3% of those surgeries addressing knee injuries.

    Authors pointed to the girls' concussion rate as possible evidence for use of helmets similar to the ones used by boys (contact rules differ among girls' and boys' lacrosse, as do protective equipment requirements), but acknowledged that "there currently is debate on the potential effectiveness of helmets for preventing concussion injuries."

    The differences in types and settings for injuries merit further research, according to the study, if for no other reason than to stay ahead of a fast-growing sport. "Given the rapidly increasing number of high school lacrosse players and the high rate of concussions among both boys and girls," authors write, "there is a great need to identify injury patterns and to investigate the causes of concussions to drive the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based, targeted preventive interventions."

     Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.

    Deal on VA Includes Money for More Providers, New Facilities

    After weeks of appearing to be another victim of a gridlocked Congress, a bill to improve access to health care in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system is now poised for a vote in both chambers.

    Called the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, the compromise bill was reached by leaders of the Senate and House veterans affairs committees, and was developed in response to news early this year of lengthy wait times—and alleged administrative efforts to cover up those waits—for patients in the VA system. The issue sparked congressional hearings and ultimately led to the resignation of then-VA head Eric Shinseki, but legislative efforts to address the problem seemed to stall as the summer wore on.

    The $17 billion deal includes:

    • A $5 billion allocation to hire more health care providers with the largest staffing shortages
    • Authorization for the VA to lease 27 new major medical facilities
    • An option for veterans to use a Medicare provider, a federally qualified health center, or a Department of Defense or Indian Health Service facility if the wait for or distance to treatment is too long
    • An extension of the Health Professionals Educational Assistance Program that helps medical professionals through scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and debt reduction
    • Additional authority for the VA secretary to fire or demote employees for mismanagement

    The deal is paid for in part through $5 billion in spending cuts in the agency, with the remainder of the price tag to be considered emergency mandatory spending that would add to the deficit—a problem for some Republicans in Congress. Spending cuts include a ban on performance bonuses in the agency through 2016, and an August 1 deadline for veterans to opt into the private care alternative.

    Reports on the compromise from the New York Times, Politico, CNN, and other outlets described the legislation as having wide support, but not necessarily guaranteed success.