Despite increased education efforts, one of the biggest challenges in the fight to prevent concussions in sports is changing the culture itself. Far too often, players will choose to hide concussion symptoms rather than be put on the sidelines.
This isn’t just a matter of male ego either. As a recent study published in the Journal of Trauma Nursing shows, almost half of all girls participating in high school sports fail to report concussions or related to symptoms to coaches or trainers.
According to lead author Tracy McDonald from the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, part of the problem is that many athletes don’t recognize when they are injured. But, that isn’t the whole problem.
“Even when they do recognize it as a concussion, they are unlikely to report it to seek help,” McDonald said in a press release.
For the study, McDonald and colleagues surveyed 77 female high school athletes about their history of concussions and concussion symptoms. Of those 77, 31 said they believed they had experienced a concussion. However, 10 of them did not report their suspected injury because they believed it “wasn’t a big deal” and didn’t want to be pulled off the field.
Even more troubling, 58 of the 77 participants reported experiencing symptoms consistent with a concussion but did not associate their symptoms with the concussion.
According to the report, basketball players were the most likely to have experienced a concussion, with soccer players not far behind. The athletes were most likely to experience headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. Approximately ten percent of the athletes surveyed said they had experienced the symptoms for a week or longer.
Based on what they found, the researchers say too many athletes simply don’t understand the risks associated with concussions.