A survey of Massachusetts youth indicated that almost half of athletes who experienced concussion symptoms continued to play that day, and only one-third stopped playing and were checked by a doctor that day. Hiding symptoms of concussion and continuing to play in sports can result in subsequent injury, delayed recovery, delayed access to treatment and risk of catastrophic injury.
An Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report on youth concussion concluded young athletes face a “culture of resistance” to reporting. We know characteristics of youth athletes, such as the knowledge they have about concussion, their attitudes about how serious symptoms are and their beliefs that if they report a concussion they will let the team down, all influence whether they will report concussion symptoms. Programs that teach about concussion are not likely to be sufficient, some studies have shown, and may in some cases have a negative effect on reporting behavior. We believe it will be important to take a broader approach that also addresses the emotional aspects of sport participation and nonreporting, the social pressures such as feeling embarrassed, letting the team down or being perceived as weak.