What do you think of when you think about student athletes suffering concussions? Young people colliding during football, soccer and other interscholastic contests? In reality, you should be paying more attention to gym class.

University of New Mexico researchers studied concussions among junior and high school students. It found physical education classes pose more risks than playing fields.

A look at the victims

The study’s authors say the findings caught them by surprise. They found concussion rates 60% higher for gym students than sports athletes.

In 2017, 20% of high school students suffered concussions in sports and other activities. The rates were 23.3% among boys and 16.9% among girls.

Researchers say students in gym class are at a disadvantage. Trained coaches and medical personnel watch over athletes in organized competition. But students in gym class may not receive attention until serious symptoms develop.

A look at the dangers

The physical symptoms of a concussion are obvious. A student may lose consciousness, become dizzy and suffer headaches. Less obvious – and often more dangerous – are emotional symptoms.

High school suicide rates are more than twice as high for concussion victims (over 17% vs. 7.9%). They also have higher rates of drinking and driving, fighting and driving without a seat belt.

“Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario is that kids begin to really fall apart,” said one pediatric psychologist. “Their academic performance begins to worsen. Their mood can worsen.”

The study’s authors stress injured students receive immediate treatment. They say it is also important to look out for both their physical and mental well-being.

A look at your options

Proving liability is complex. A school is not likely to admit its fault when your child suffers an injury. Officials will argue accidents and injuries are part of participating in physical activities. They may blame your child’s own behavior for the concussion.

Your primary concern is your child receiving the best care from trained professionals. You also need to prepare for their future needs.