Despite efforts to better identify and remove players who have experienced potential brain injuries during school sports, a new study shows many potentially injured athletes are choosing to continue playing even after experiencing possible concussions.
According to a federal report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 70 percent of young athletes who have experienced possible concussions continue playing in a game or practice. Of the 800 high school athletes surveyed, 40 percent said their coaches were unaware that they had a possible injury.
Recent efforts have made great strides to better educate student-athletes and coaches about the dangers of concussions and the increased risk for severe injury in the wake of a concussion. However, Grant T. Baldwin, director of the CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention says, “we have a long way to go.”
The report from the CDC, titled “Concussion at Play: Opportunities to Reshape the Culture Around Concussion,” details the current research efforts on concussion as well as behaviors and attitudes among athletes, coaches, parents, school professionals, and health care providers.
It also includes many suggestions for improving safety, such as coaches changing how they talk about the injury to prevent students from feeling pressured to keep playing. Schools also need to encourage the reporting of concussion, while physicians and trainers are recommended to be clear on how long a student should be sidelined.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, who co-founded the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, spoke at the release of the report at Garfield High School in New Jersey, calling for changes that will encourage everyone to take the injury more seriously. He said he after the publicity surrounding concussion-related brain damage in the NFL, parents, coaches, and students still underestimate the dangers.
“I can’t say this enough: Every concussion is brain damage,” Pascrell said. “There’s no such thing as a simple concussion.”