There’s been a massive push to spread awareness of the risks of concussions, especially in youth sports. Still, it appears this information isn’t making it to many parents and guardians of young athletes.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Research shows a large number of these parents still have a limited understanding of concussions and their associated risks.
The report was co-authored by Cynthia Trowbridge, an associate professor of kinesiology and athletic trainer at the University of Texas Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, as well as Sheetal J. Patel from Stanford University.
The team says they found that a notable number of authority figures showed dangerous misunderstandings of concussions.
“They did understand that it’s a severe injury but they didn’t understand how susceptible patients are,” said Trowbridge, a noted expert on concussions in middle and high school athletes. “We found out that despite the fact that all parents had read some brochure or seen some TV show about concussions they had a low self-efficacy about awareness. They tended not to know that concussions are associated with all sports, including track and field, volleyball and swimming.”
Trowbridge says she was motivated to conduct the study to see whether parents and caregivers were thoroughly informed about concussions and create new strategies to better educate them.
“It’s important to involve not only the athletes but the caregivers,” said Trowbridge. “It is the caregiver that knows the child the best and can often recognize the signs and symptoms.”
She was also concerned about reports that many young athletes often withhold information about their own concussions and may attempt to hide symptoms to continue playing.
“We are still learning how concussion symptoms resolve but we know that they don’t get better by sending someone right back in with symptoms,” Trowbridge said. “Sports is so magical and so many things can be learned from sports, but we have to give the caregivers the tools to be able to protect the youth athlete when they can’t protect themselves.”
While she is still using this information to craft new ways to reach parents with critical information about brain injuries, Trowbridge advices that parents and guardians take their time to choose physicians who are deeply informed about concussions. She notes not all physicians are up-to-date on the latest information regarding concussions.
She also recommends that parents consult with neurologists, primary care physicians who specialize in sports medicine, and concussion specialist when seeking advice about brain injuries.