Research Shows Parents Need More Knowledge on Concussions


Two new studies suggest that many parents need to increase their knowledge concerning concussions.

The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that many parents do not know enough about concussions and must increase that knowledge to help their children receive proper treatment and fully recover.

The first study, “Parental Knowledge of Concussion,” was performed as a survey of parents of children aged 5 to 18 who had suffered a head injury.  Of the 511 parents surveyed, only about 50% of them reported knowing that a concussion was a brain injury that appeared through symptoms like headaches and difficulty concentrating.  Although 92% did know to contact a doctor when they suspected their child had suffered a concussion, only 26% knew the guidelines concerning when to allow their child to resume sports and schoolwork.

Parental demographics did not play a role in any knowledge concerning concussions or treatment of them.

The second study, “Parental Misconceptions Regarding Sports-Related Concussion,” looked at parental knowledge of 214 parents whose children had suffered a head injury (group 1), and a second set of 250 parents from a private school (group 2).  While many of the parents did well on the online survey, 70% of group 1 and 49% in group 2 falsely believed that concussions can be viewed through a magnetic resonance imaging brain scan.

Another false conception believed by 25% of group 1 and 29% of group 2 was that a reduction in breathing is a symptom of having had a concussion.  Difficulty speaking was also found to be falsely believed to be a symptom by 75% of group 1 and 79% of group 2.

“Our study highlights the fact that many parents are still in need of education regarding concussion identification and post-injury evaluation. Even those highly educated parents were prone to misconceptions,” study senior author Tracy Zaslow, MD, medical director of the sports medicine and concussion program at Children’s Orthopaedic Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said in an AAP news release. “False perceptions such as the ones pinpointed by our study may impact when medical care is sought after concussion and lead to less than optimal home care,” Zaslow added.

With almost 175,000 children visiting the emergency room each year for concussion-related injuries due to sports-related activities, parental knowledge on the subject is of the utmost importance in order for children to receive timely and appropriate treatment.

States across the country are taking notice of the topic with changes being made at state and school levels.  In Connecticut, new legislation requires the state Board of Education to create a plan that will lower the number of concussions as well as develop a procedure to be followed at all schools within the state if a student should suffer from a concussion.

The legislation also states that any student athlete who looks as if they have experienced a concussion during a sporting event should immediately be taken out of the game, and that all concussions must be reported to the state Board of Education.

“We want our students to achieve the highest levels of physical, behavioral and educational success,” Governor Dannel P. Malloy said. “This bill will help ensure that parents, coaches and student athletes will all be better prepared to identify and respond to concussions.”

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