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High School Athletes Say Concussions Won’t Sideline Them

5/6/2013 Survey of Football Players Shows Many Would Not Report Symptoms to a coach

WASHINGTON, DC – Many high school football players say it’s OK to play with a concussion even though they know they are at risk of serious injury, according to a study to be presented Monday, May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC.

The study of 120 high school football players in the Cincinnati area also found that one-quarter had suffered a concussion, and more than half acknowledged they would continue to play with symptoms of a concussion.

“These attitudes could leave young athletes vulnerable to injury from sports-related concussions,” said study co-author Brit Anderson, MD, pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Dr. Anderson and her colleagues administered two surveys to the athletes to measure their knowledge of concussions and symptoms as well as their attitudes about playing after a head injury.

Survey results showed that 70 percent of the players had been educated about concussions, and most could identify common signs and symptoms. Headache was identified as a symptom by 93 percent, dizziness by 89 percent, difficulty remembering and sensitivity to light/sound by 78 percent, difficulty concentrating by 76 percent and feeling in a fog by 53 percent.

While 91 percent recognized a risk of serious injury if they returned to play too quickly, only half would always or sometimes report their concussion symptoms to their coach.

“Despite their knowledge, many athletes in our sample reported that they would not tell their coach about symptoms and would continue to play,” Dr. Anderson said. “A small percentage even responded that athletes have a responsibility to play in important games with a concussion.”

The researchers found no association between a student’s knowledge score and attitude score on the surveys. “In other words, athletes who had more knowledge about concussions were not more likely to report symptoms,” Dr. Anderson said.

“Although further study needs to be done,” she concluded, “it is possible that concussion education alone may not be enough to promote safe concussion behaviors in high school football players.”  

To view the abstract, “‘I Can’t Miss the Big Game’: High School (HS) Football Players’ Knowledge and Attitudes about Concussions,” go to

Funding was received from EMS-Ohio Grant. Additionally, this project was completed through the Comprehensive Children's Injury Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.


The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations that co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting – the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information, visit Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at

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