Concussion Knowledge Among Youth Football Players

J., Covassin T., Gould DR. Athl Train Sports Health Care. 2014;6(6):280-284.

Take Home Message: While
75% of youth football athletes reported that they understood the dangers of
concussions over 60% reported that they believe it is okay to continue to play
after they sustained a hit to the head that elicited a headache as long as they
did not lose consciousness. This suggests that this population needs further
concussion education.

3 million athletes over the age of 6 participate in tackle football, and concussions
account for up to 6.5% of all injuries in youth sports. A lack of knowledge
surrounding concussive symptoms is associated with under-reporting concussion
injuries; however, most of these studies fail to include youth populations.
Therefore, the authors evaluated sports-related concussion knowledge among youth
football players (8 to 14 years of age). Eighty-one youth football players from
a Big Ten university football camp (~12 years old, ~3.6 years playing tackle
football) completed a 12-item survey developed by the researchers. Athletes
answered questions regarding the athlete’s knowledge of the dangers of
concussion, if they knew the concussion signs and symptoms, and whether the
athlete believes he could recognize a concussion. Additionally, the athletes
attempted to identify the correct concussion signs and symptoms out of 16
listed signs and symptoms. Most of the athletes correctly identified dizziness
(88%), headache (86%), blurred vision (82%), loss of consciousness (78%), and
confusion (77%). However, most of the athletes were not able to identify amnesia
(39%) or sleep disturbances (43%) as concussive signs and symptoms. Many
athletes thought black eye (95%), chest pain (95%), abnormal sense of smell (91%),
abnormal sense of taste (94%), and nose bleed (83%) were concussive signs and
symptoms. Seventy-five percent of the athletes reported that they understood the
dangers of concussions, but only 29% reported that they agree completely that
they know all the concussion signs and symptoms. Additionally, 75% of the
athletes reported that if they may have a concussion it is not okay to continue
playing; however, 63% of the athletes failed to disagree with the statement “If
I am hit in the head and have a headache, it is okay to continue to play as
long as I didn’t lose consciousness.”

study conveys that the athletes understand that concussion is a problem in
their sport; however, they lack the knowledge about concussion signs and symptoms
to follow through with reporting if they were to sustain a concussion. Due to
the individuality of this injury it is important to recognize all of the signs
and symptoms following a head impact. The authors demonstrated the youth
athlete’s continued misunderstanding of the concussive signs and symptoms. This
could be due to youth athletes not knowing what the terms amnesia or loss of
consciousness mean when they are reading the survey. Furthermore, returning to
play when the brain is still in a state of vulnerability is also a concern. The
authors point out that only 38% of the athletes would not return to play if
they sustained a head impact that resulted with a headache. Medical personnel
should be aware of the lack of knowledge among youth football players regarding
concussion signs and symptoms. We should educate these athletes about
concussion signs and symptoms as well as the dangers of returning to play too
soon and what to do if they suspect they sustained a concussion. We must be
proactive and ensure this information is distributed to the coaches, players,
and parents.

Questions for
Discussion: Do you believe parents of youth athletes should have to go through
standardized concussion training? What is the best way you found to educate youth
athletes on concussions?

Written by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
by: Jeff Driban


More Concussion Education Necessary for Pediatric Neurologists

McAllister-Deitrick, J., Covassin, T., & Gould, D. (2014). Sport-Related Concussion Knowledge Among Youth Football Players Athletic Training & Sports Health Care, 6 (6), 280-284 DOI: 10.3928/01484834-20141112-03