Study – Concussed Kids Have 75% Higher Risk of Not Completing Grade 12

Although not combat sports specific a recent study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport sheds important light on repercussions of youth concussion.

The study, titled The impact of concussion on school performance in Australian children: a population-based matched cohort study, reviwed thousands of childreen who had concussions and compared them to a non concussed peer population. The groups were compared on how they peformed on standardized tests and also their risk of completing high school.

The study found that the group who had been hospitalized with concussion had

  • significantly higher risk of not meeting minimum standards on educational standardized tests for reading and numeracy
  • 64% higher risk of not completing high school grade 11
  • 75% higher risk of not completing high school grade 12

Below is the full abstract of the study which shows that even a singular concussion (those that were severe enough to warrant hospitalization) can have significant negative repercussions on educational outcomes.

Introduction: School children who sustain a concussion may experience cognitive and behavioural changes that may impact on their ability to learn, which may lead to poorer educational outcomes. This study aimed to compare academic performance and high school completion of young people hospitalised with concussion and matched peers not hospitalised with concussion.

Methods: A population-based, matched case-comparison cohort study of young people aged ≤18 years hospitalised with concussion during 2005-2018 in New South Wales, Australia, using linked birth, health, education, and mortality records. The comparison cohort was matched on age, sex, and residential postcode. Multi-level generalised linear mixed modelling was used to examine risk of not achieving the national minimum standard (NMS) on standardised tests for numeracy and reading in school grades 3, 5, 7, and 9, and generalised linear regression was used to examine risk of not completing high school years 10, 11, and 12, for young people hospitalised with concussion compared to matched peers not hospitalised with concussion during the study period. The final models accounted for available covariates (i.e. sex, socioeconomic status, non-English language background status, comorbidity status, and parental education) to derive adjusted relative risks (ARR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: The number of young people hospitalised with concussion where a matched peer could be identified was n=1,049 for school grade 3; n=1,035 for school grade 5; n=932 for school grade 7; n=689 for school grade 9; n=1,445 for high school year 10; n=1,366 for high school year 11; and n=1,182 for high school year 12. Young people hospitalised with concussion had 30% higher risk of not achieving the NMS for numeracy (ARR 1.30; 95%CI 1.05–1.62; p=0.0165) and 40% higher risk of not achieving the NMS for reading (ARR 1.40; 95%CI 1.17–1.67; p=0.0002) in school grades 3-9, compared to matched peers. Young people hospitalised with concussion had a 64% higher risk of not completing high school year 11 (ARR 1.64; 95%CI 1.38–1.94; p<0.0001) and 75% higher risk of not completing high school year 12 (ARR 1.75; 95%CI 1.48–2.06; p<0.0001), compared to matched peers.

Discussion: Young people hospitalised with concussion have higher risk of not achieving minimum standards for numeracy and reading and not completing high school compared to matched peers not hospitalised with concussion. There is a need to improve return to learning and recovery management for young people with concussion to mitigate adverse effects of concussion on education, including potential sequelae such as early school leaving and unemployment and poverty in adulthood.

Impact/Application to the field: This is the world’s first population-based study to estimate the impact of concussion on school children’s performance on national standardised tests for numeracy and reading and high school completion

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