Concussion danger in sports: Is wrestling as risky as football? - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Concussion danger in sports: Is wrestling as risky as football?

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

The past few years has seen a certain topic take over the sports world: Concussions. While they happen in many different sports, most people believe the majority of concussions happen to football players. We asked an expert whether wrestling is as risky as football when it comes to concussions.

K. Izzi McKinney, a sports medicine associate at Billings Clinic and athletic trainer at Skyview High School, said concussion rates differ every year, but as a general rule, contact sports like football and wrestling both pose similar risks.

McKinney said football and wrestling cannot be labeled more dangerous than the other. "Each sport has very similar parallels in terms of mechanism of injuries. When you look at football versus wrestling, both sports have a lot of person to person contact and that's actually the leading cause of reported concussions among both sports."

Safety items like headgear and helmets aren't useful for concussion management, McKinney says.

"The football helmet doesn't really stop the brain from shifting inside the skull, which is the mechanism of a concussion, caused by some sort of trauma to either the head or the body," she says. "In wrestling, the headgear is actually used to prevent cauliflower ears which is where you can get high friction between the surfaces of the ear and it causes inflammation which produces fluid that turns into cauliflower ear."

She said the health and well being of an athlete also relies on having competent coaches, access to sports medicine staff and strength and conditioning.

Last year, the high school database for reporting injuries, RIO, said that 1.1 million athletes played football.

"Of all of those injuries, 26% of those were concussion or head and face related," McKinney said. In the same study, RIO also looked at nationwide wrestling numbers. In the same season, 14.6 percent of 270,000 wrestlers reported injuries. 

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