After the passage of a youth sports safety concussion bill in 2012, the Florida High School Athletic Association required parents and student athletes to sign a concussion consent form detailing that the athlete must report to a licensed athletic trainer, coach or parent if he or she experienced symptoms of a concussion or suspected a teammate was subjected to a concussion.
But even with concussion-related legislation in place, a new study, “Concussion Knowledge in High School Football Players,” published in the September Journal of Athletic Training suggests that high school athletes lack adequate knowledge about concussions, which may influence their decision to report symptoms.
Researchers from the University of Florida surveyed 334 varsity football players from 11 Florida high schools to determine their level of knowledge about concussions. Participants had an average of 2.1 years of high school football experience and an average age of 16.3 years.
Participants completed a written questionnaire specific to concussion symptoms, outcomes and education. Headache (97 percent) dizziness (93 percent) and confusion (90 percent) were the correctly identified symptoms.
According to Dr. Brady Tripp, who authored the study with Janie Cournoyer, only a few student athletes correctly identified brain hemorrhage, coma and death as possible consequences of inappropriate care.
The study revealed that 54 percent of participants report receiving education from their parents; 60 percent reported receiving concussion education in class or online; and 25 percent reported never receiving any concussion education.
The findings suggest high school football players surveyed did not have sufficient knowledge about concussion symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting, neck pain, difficulty concentrating and personality or behavioral changes.
The authors of the study promote concussion education as one of the main measures for prevention and management and suggest that adequate knowledge can help athletes better recognize symptoms and understand the consequences of not reporting the injury.
The authors of the study suggest instructional videos, demonstration of “Heads-Up” tackling, pre-participation meetings and web-based programs as useful measures for improving knowledge about concussions.