An exploration of concussion knowledge, attitudes, and reporting behaviours in varsity athletes
LE3 .A278 2017
Bachelor of Kinesiology with Honours Conversion
Concussions experienced by young adults are most commonly caused by their involvement in sport (Gordon, Dooley & Wood, 2006). A concussion is described as a “traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces” McCrory et al., (2017). These forces could be caused by a direct hit to the head, or an indirect hit to the body (Broglio et al., 2014). Individual suffering a concussion can experience a range of symptoms including somatic symptoms, behavioural changes, emotional symptoms, cognitive impairment, and sleep wake disturbances (McCrory et al., 2017). Proper concussion rehabilitation is important to avoid long term complications. Unfortunately, many concussions go unreported, and untreated. The purpose of the current study was to examine Canadian athlete concussion knowledge, attitudes towards concussion reporting, and their reporting behaviours. Eighty-five varsity athletes participated in a survey, and twelve athletes took part in an interview. Subjects included athletes from contact sports (football, rugby and hockey), limited contact sports (soccer and basketball) and non-contact sports (cross country, volleyball and swimming). Athletes in the current study scored highly on the knowledge component of the survey, however this knowledge basis was not associated with greater reporting behaviors. Athletes were hesitant to report symptoms to those individuals who could limit their playing time (athletic therapists and coaches), and were most likely to talk to their friends or teammates. Underreporting behaviours were most apparent in contact sport athletes in their preseason baseline testing, as well as concussion testing post injury. Perceived pressure from coaches and teammates to keep playing was also a concern for athletes. The most commonly noted reason for underreporting was wanting to play. Athletes would continue to play if they thought they were the better option for the team, and would generally only feel comfortable sitting out if they were presenting physical symptoms, or were negatively effecting team well-being. Many athletes noted a dissatisfaction with current return to play protocols, and listed the length of time sitting out as a deterrent to reporting. Athletes noted a willingness to take part in concussion education,with key topic of interest including the effects of playing with a concussion, long-term effects, and the RTP protocol. Athletes in the study agreed that an education program would be more beneficial if it was delivered by a former athlete or someone familiar with the team’s culture.
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