DENVER (CBS4) – Concussions are a major health concern in Colorado, especially among high school athletes. Now new research has found that children in Colorado may be safer than children elsewhere.

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh talked with a researcher who looked at how altitude affects concussions.

The link seems to indicate Colorado is at lower risk when it comes to sports-related concussions. It’s all about the packaging of the brain.

“We looked for the first time at the effect of altitude on concussion risks,” Dr. Dawn Comstock at the Colorado School of Public Health said.

Comstock and others studied data from nearly 500 high schools. They found a 31 percent decrease in concussions in sports played at altitudes of 600 feet and above. The possible explanation is that at higher elevations blood vessels in the brain undergo mild swelling.

“At higher altitude we believe there’s less room inside the skull for the brain to slam back and forth,” Comstock said.

Researchers may look at concussions in professional sports next. The findings could lead to better protective equipment.

“At some point in the future we could see football players wearing some type of an inflatable neck cuff that could change their inter-cranial pressure at different altitudes in an attempt to decrease their concussion risk,” Comstock said.

It could be the most helpful improvement since the helmet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates every year at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur.

A little more protection would be highly appreciated especially by parents.


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