Just Learning About Concussions Doesn’t Make Kids Report Them

How effective are concussion awareness programs at actually getting kids to report their symptoms?

Football helmet
Football helmet of the late Owen Thomas, a former University of Pennsylvania football player, brought to the hearing on H.R 6172, Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act by his mother, Rev. Katherine E. Brearley, Ph.D. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats

Once, ”shake it off” was the prescription for a kid who took a blow to the head. But these days, athletes in contact sports are pretty aware of the risk of concussions, and coaches and parents have tried to make their kids aware of the risks. But how effective are concussion awareness programs at actually getting kids to report their symptoms? A new paper suggests that educational videos might not be as useful as once thought.

An earlier study showed that just knowing about concussion symptoms doesn’t seem to make kids report their own. This new study tried to figure out how effective a video on concussions was at making kids report their symptoms. What they found was that viewing the video increased their participants knowledge of concussions—the kids in the study were able to correctly answer questions about the risks and symptoms. But two months later, that knowledge was gone.

At the blog Sports Medicine Research, Stephen Stache writes:

The results of this study are important because they continue to highlight a gap in knowledge transfer among athletes with regards to concussion education.  These results might not be surprising since this was a single modality without reinforcement, but combining an educational tool, such as a video, with reminders like in-locker room posters has been shown to be effective. Additional review of the results showed that older athletes had a greater knowledge of concussion-related information at baseline when compared with the younger age group.

There is, of course, another way to minimize kids’ risks from head injuries—keep them out of contact sports. But kids are stubborn: if it’s this hard to get them to report when they’ve taken a blow to the head, imagine how hard it would be to tell them they couldn’t play at all.

More from Smithsonian.com:

There’s No Such Thing as a Concussion-Proof Helmet
Five Kid Concussions in One Game Have Parents Questioning Pop Warner Football

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