It has long been understood that self-reporting is a terrible diagnostic method for brain injury, but until recently there were few other ways to go about identifying possible brain injuries. For athletes, the biggest reason self-reporting doesn’t work as a diagnostic method is simply that players would rather stay in the game than report a possible injury. According to a recent study, that mentality begins early.
According to CBS, half of the high school football players surveyed for the study said they would remain on the field, even if they believed they had suffered a concussion, and only a little under half of all the students said they wouldn’t report the symptoms if they experienced them. Frighteningly, the majority of these players were very aware of the high risk for serious injuries when dealing with single or repeat brain injuries.
Dr. Brit Anderson, head of the research team, said that while they aren’t at a point to make specific policy recommendations, there are clearly issues with relying on athletes to report their own symptoms. Instead, there is likely a need for increased sideline screening by coaches and health staff, even when players deny injury.
They study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington D.C., and has yet to be published by a journal, so it is considered preliminary, but the findings are similar to those found in other sports and professional leagues. For example, in 2011 Peyton Manning implied he purposely failed a baseline concussion test in order to make later screenings look better which might get him more easily cleared to return to play.