Children's Health

Young athletes continue to play through concussion symptoms, study shows

Despite the widely-known risks associated with concussions, many high school football players said they wouldn’t report symptoms to a coach and would continue to play even if they had a headache resulting from an on-field injury, Medical Xpress reported.

In a survey of 120 high school football players, 30 reported having suffered a concussion, and 90 percent said they recognized the risk of serious injury if they returned to playing too quickly after a concussion.

The majority of the students also recognized the symptoms of a concussion: headaches, dizziness, difficulty with memory, difficulty concentrating, and sensitivity to light and sound.

However, 53 percent said they would  "always or sometimes continue to play with a headache sustained from an injury," and only 54 percent indicated they would "always or sometimes report symptoms of a concussion to their coach,” Medical Xpress reported.

Doctors from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where the study was conducted, said their findings were worrisome.

"We aren't yet at the point where we can make specific policy recommendations for sports teams, but this study raises concerns that young athletes may not report symptoms of concussions," says Dr. Brit Anderson, an emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children's and the study's lead author.

Anderson noted more research needs to be done into how to better educate these athletes – and how to more effectively spot concussions in high school players.

"Other approaches, such as an increased use of sideline screening by coaches or athletic trainers, might be needed to identify injured athletes," Anderson said.

It is estimated that up to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the United States every year – and concussions make up approximately 8.9 percent of all high school athletic injuries, Medical Xpress noted.

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies on May 6 in Washington, D.C.

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