High School Football Players Not Worried About Concussions

Despite an increased media blitz, high school football players still hide possible concussions.

A paramedic examines a young man for a concussion.
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Despite increased attention on concussions in the NFL, many high school athletes still aren't concerned about concussions, according to a new report by University of Arkansas researchers.

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In a survey with 134 high school football players, nearly a third said they had experienced concussion-like symptoms at least once in the past two years but did not seek medical attention for their symptoms. Most of those students said they avoided seeking medical attention because they feared missing football games. One tenth of all students interviewed said they had been officially diagnosed with a concussion.

Most of the students surveyed said they generally learned about concussion symptoms and impacts from their coaches or an athletic trainer; less than 10 percent of students learned about concussions from the media. The study was to be presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Convention.

"We as a medical community need to do a better job of disseminating this information to coaches, trainers, and athletic associations to help ensure the safety of their athletes," Michael Israel, the study's co-author, said in a statement.

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A separate study presented at the convention found that high schools that employ athletic trainers have far more diagnosed concussions and much lower injury rates than schools without trainers. Less than half of American high schools employ an athletic trainer.

Among girls' soccer players, concussion rates were more than eight times higher at schools with a trainer; among girls' basketball players, the rate was 4.5 times higher.

"Concussed athletes are more likely to be identified in schools with athletic trainers and thus more likely to receive proper treatment," Cynthia LaBella, one of the study's authors, said in a statement. "Athletic trainers facilitate treatment of injuries and monitor recovery so that athletes are not returned to play prematurely."

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Concussions in the NFL have been linked with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that can only be diagnosed after death, higher rates of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and other chronic brain ailments.

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.