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MHSAA studying student-athlete safety as concussion rates increase

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MHSAA Concussions

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is studying head injury trends among all sports to learn trends of where, when, and how kids are getting injured.

In the MHSAA data, head injuries increased for the first time in four years of data collection, but many feel that's a positive sign.

"When we see numbers increase, it's a direct reflection of awareness" Owosso athletic director Dallas Lintner said.

The MHSAA recorded 3,868 head injuries among all schools in 2018-19. That's a slight increase from the previous year, and most likely the actual number is even higher.

The Journal of Athletic Training found under-reporting of high school athletes to be as much as 55 percent.

"I don’t think in any situation that the number of reported concussions will be the actual numbers of injuries," Lintner said. "There’s a gap."

In a survey done by Mid-Michigan Now of more than 100 local high school coaches, we found that 30 percent said an athletic trainer was not present at every game or competition. 70 percent said no athletic trainer was present at practice.

The reason? It's not required by the MHSAA.

"That’s true of all 51 associations in the country," MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said. "You can have a requirement for every school to have a trainer but there aren't enough trainers out there."

The MHSAA is a non-profit, meaning it'd be an unfunded mandate to require all schools to pay for a full-time trainer.

The math works like this: the MHSAA oversees 749 schools, the average salary for full-time high school athletic trainers is $53,000. The MHSAA would need nearly $39 million just to fund one athletic trainer per school.

One thing the MHSAA is doing to help with concussions when it comes to money is providing concussion insurance for any athlete that suffers a head injury.

"Our insurance coverage reimburses every penny for a possible head injury," Uyl said.

Click here to see the full 2018-19 MHSAA Head Injury Report.