Paige HavensMore Times Than Not, When It Comes to Concussion, Mum’s the Word
By Paige Havens
The Concussion Discussion 

So what’s in your media feed? I know it might surprise you but I have my daily feeds search for the latest on concussions and concussion research. Yes, I browse through the latest concussion news as I drink my morning coffee. It helps me stay current and relevant to this discussion.

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Recently I read some interesting research findings published by Children’s National Health System that said for every 1 concussion that occurs in the NFL an estimated 50,000 concussions occur in student athletes. Let’s do that math. The NFL reported 244 concussions in the 2016 season. 244 x 50,000 = 12.2 million concussions in youth athletes. That is a staggering number of brain injuries.

Various studies report that athletes give these reasons for not reporting:

• Did not think they injury was serious enough to report
• Did not want to be pulled from competition
• Did not want to let down teammates
• Did not want to let down coaches
• Did not know the event was a concussion
• Did not want to be removed from practices

Recent studies are consistent with a 2010 ESPN poll of players, coaches, parents and athletic trainers in 23 states, which found that players are still the group least concerned about concussions. When asked whether, if a star player got concussed, they would rather lose the title game as he/she sat out than win it because he/she chose to play with a concussion, more than half (54.1%) of the players in the ESPN survey said they would rather play the star compared to 9% of athletic trainers, 6.1% of parents, and 2.1% of coaches.

Again and again, the research affirms that we are just getting started with the concussion discussion. We are making some headway reaching coaches, parents and health care providers, but we still have a long way to go to help our athletes understand just how serious this injury can be. They are living in the moment and see themselves as invincible. It’s up to us, the adults, to lead the charge in crafting a safe sports culture here in our community. Our athletes will thrive when the have fun playing their sport; receive positive messages and praise for reporting concussion symptoms; have parents who talk with them about concussion and model and expect safe play; and have coaches and teammates that support them sitting out if they are hurt. We need to turn up the volume on this discussion with our kids. Mum is no longer the word!