A lot of effort has been made the last few years to increase awareness about concussions among schools, coaches, parents, and athletes.  New research suggests that, at least for the athletes, the message is not sinking in:

Although 90.8 percent recognized the risk of serious injury associated with returning to play too quickly, 91.4 percent felt it was acceptable for an athlete to play with a concussion; 74.7 percent agreed they would play through any injury in order to win a game; and only 40.6 said they would report concussion symptoms to their coach immediately. Attitude scores were no better for athletes with high knowledge scores than for those with lower knowledge scores.


Since a lot of significant head injuries – especially those that occur during youth sporting events – may not be witnessed, there really is a reliance on the athletes themselves to report concussion symptoms.  And, once a concussion is diagnosed, it’s clear that an athlete’s word concerning ongoing symptoms (or resolution of symptoms) cannot be trusted.  Objective measures, using the old-fashioned physical exam, as well as modern computerized neurocognitive testing (such as ImPACT – Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), are necessary to guide clinicians to clear concussed athletes to return to school and, later on, back to the field of play.

It starts with a baseline ImPACT test, which we can perform in many of our offices.  It takes about 30 minutes to perform on one of our laptop computers.  While most high schools in Western Pennsylvania are attuned to the importance of baseline ImPACTs, younger athletes often don’t have the opportunity through their school or amateur sports association to get one.  If your student athlete is older than ten years old and participates in a sport or activity where a concussion can occur, please call our office to schedule a baseline ImPACT test.

More concussion news on The PediaBlog here.


(Image – digitalart/