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Many Parents Lack Concussion Awareness Study Shows

Many parents and guardians of young athletes do not thoroughly understand the impact of concussions on their child's future. This information is according to a study co-authored by a faculty member of the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and a Stanford faculty member.

The study by Cynthia Trowbridge, an associate professor of kinesiology and athletic trainer at UTA, and Sheetal Patel of Stanford University, was published in May in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Research. The results showed that a significant number of caregivers have limited awareness of the long term affects of a concussion on a child.

Trowbridge, who is a renowned expert on middle and high school sports injuries said, "They did understand that it's a severe injury but the don't understand how susceptible patients are. We found 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."

Sports related concussions have gained national attention recently, due to the large number of retired professional football players who have filed suits against the National Football League. In some instances they allege that they were returned to the game despite their coaches having probable knowledge that they may have suffered concussions.

Laws are in place in every state, which require teams to take out athletes who may have suffered concussions. A team of health care professionals, including a physician, an advanced practice nurse and an athletic trainer, often makes up the group where the responsibility lies.

Despite these precautions, 53 percent of all head injuries, in young people under the age of 19, are sports related, per the U.S Centers for Disease Control. The CDC estimates that each year between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports related injuries occur.

"We live in an age in which parents recognize more than ever the importance of athletics instilling skills like discipline, concentration, team work and leadership in young people," said Anne Bavier, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. "But we need to be just as mindful about the kinds of dangerous, unseen injuries that come from playing sports. This study is a useful tool for building awareness and arming parents with some really good information."

The motivation to do the study was to better educate caregivers to be more effective in looking for symptoms, or other possible signs of trouble, by discovering exactly what they knew about concussions, according to Trowbridge.

"It's important to involve not only the athletes but the caregivers," Trowbridge said. "It is the caregiver that knows the child the best and can often recognize the signs and symptoms."

She continued by pointing out that that studies show that many young athletes are reluctant to tell the truth about their symptoms because of their desire to keep on playing.

"We are still learning how concussion symptoms resolve," Trowbridge said. "But we know that they don't get better by sending someone back into the game with symptoms."

When picking a physician, parents and guardians should use discrimination. Many physicians do not thoroughly understand concussions and are not qualified to examine children who have suspected brain injuries. Medical professionals such as neurologists and physicians who specialize in sports medicine and concussion specialists should be the only ones trusted for advice.

Proper Training is Essential to Prevention

It is the duty of coaches to be aware of the detrimental effects from injuries that occur to players on the field. It is the school district's responsibility to ensure that the coaches are properly trained in the area of sports injury. A concussion being shaken off and the player sent back into the game as a sign of toughness is no longer an acceptable practice. Playing an injured player in a game is considered negligence and a coach and school district should be held accountable for any further injury to a player that could have been prevented.

Sports Injury Lawyers

The sports injury attorneys at Vititoe Law Group are interested in speaking with anyone with a son or daughter who may have serious complications following contact sports participation. The effects of a serious concussion or multiple concussions may not manifest for months following injury. Do not attempt to determine the cause and extent of the damage. Seek a qualified medical professional as soon as possible and then call Vititoe Law Group for a free initial evaluation of your case. You may be entitled to significant compensation. Call 818-851-1886 today.

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