Survey: High school football players show little concern for concussions

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 - head injury

Despite growing knowledge about the harms of concussions, a survey of high school football players has revealed that most would ignore warning signs and return to play, according to a study to be presented May 6 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Even athletes with higher knowledge of concussion symptoms and associated risks showed little willingness to abstain from play, according to Brit Anderson, MD, pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues.

“Education alone for athletes may not be enough to effectively influence players to practice safe post-concussion behaviors,” wrote the authors in the study abstract.

Two validated surveys were used to assess the attitudes of 120 Cincinnati area high school football players during a competitive football camp in 2012. All athletes were required to complete one of the two surveys, which also scored the athletes’ knowledge of concussions to determine if that had an effect on attitudes.

More than 90 percent responded that they felt it was okay for an athlete to play with a concussion, and nearly three quarters said they would play through any injury to win a game, according to Anderson and colleagues. Only 40.6 percent would tell their coach immediately if they had symptoms of a concussion.

Attitudes did not vary significantly with concussion knowledge, which was generally high. At least three in four athletes recognized headache, dizziness, difficulty remembering, sensitivity to light/sound and difficulty concentrating as concussion symptoms. More than 90 percent recognized returning to play too quickly could result in serious injury.

One quarter of the players reported suffering a concussion in the past, and 70 percent reported prior concussion education, according to the authors.

For more on concussions, please read “ Turning Up the Volume on a Silent Epidemic: Advanced Imaging & TBI” in the May/June issue of Health Imaging.