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Athletes experience fewer concussions at higher elevations

6:21 PM, Dec 9, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - High school athletes in Colorado may have a lower risk for concussions. A new study, which involved researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health, finds athletes at higher elevations experience fewer concussions than those closer to sea level. They analyzed concussion statistics from athletes playing multiple sports in nearly 500 high schools from across the country. Scientists found a 31 percent decrease in sports played at altitudes of 600 feet and above. Concussion rates for high school football players decreased by 30 percent.

"It appears that when you are at altitude there may be a little less free space in the skull so the brain can't move around as much," said Dawn Comstock, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health and co-author of the study.
Comstock says the next step may be to look at professional sports.

"If this study is correct, we should look to replicate our findings in the National Football League," Comstock said. "For example, if the Broncos play the Chargers in San Diego or the Dolphins in Miami they should experience more concussions than when they play here in Denver."
She says it could also pave the way for new protective equipment.

This is the first time any research has linked altitude to sports-related concussions.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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