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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  SPORT INJURIES AND REHABILITATION 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 March;61(3):407-12

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.20.11194-0

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Wrestling-related concussions and closed head injuries predominantly occur in high school age athletes

Kevin PIRRUCCIO 1 , Robert L. PARISIEN 2, Corey OLSEN 3, John D. KELLY 2

1 Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; 3 Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA



BACKGROUND: Sports-related concussions (SRC) and closed head injuries (CHI) have recently garnered national attention given mounting concern for long-term neurological sequelae resulting from repetitive head trauma. Despite historically dangerous techniques in wrestling that involve impacts to the head, there is a paucity of epidemiologic data in regard to wrestling-related concussions (WRCs) in the United States (USA).
METHODS: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database was queried (2000-2018) to report national estimates and demographic characteristics of patients 6-25 years of age presenting to US emergency departments (EDs) with WRCs and CHIs.
RESULTS: The average annual number of patients presenting to US EDs with WRCs or CHIs was 3465 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2489-4441). Over one-third of patients were between 15 (17.7%; 95% CI: 15.8%-19.7%) and 16 (17.0%; 95% CI: 14.9%-19.1%) years of age, which comprised the peak age groups during which such head injuries were sustained. The vast majority of patients were male (96.3%; 95% CI: 94.8%-97.7%). Lastly, 6.2% (95% CI: 4.3-8.2%) of patients did not present to the ED on the same day that the injury was sustained.
CONCLUSIONS: Due to the unique nature and culture of the sport, wrestlers may be more likely to attribute SRC or CHI symptoms to normal training-related fatigue, which can lead to underreporting or delayed diagnosis. It is therefore imperative that appropriate safety initiatives and concussion awareness campaigns be implemented in youth wrestling to decrease the incidence of SRCs at local and national levels.


KEY WORDS: Wrestling; Sports; Epidemiology; Delayed diagnosis

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