Before their children are allowed to participate in sports, many parents must sign a document acknowledging that they understand concussions and their risks for brain injury. But a new poll on children’s health suggests that even if they know about the risk of concussion, they’re not necessarily capable of handling it properly.
According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, about half of the 912 parents of middle- and high-school children surveyed said they had participated in some kind of concussion education.
- Nearly 1 in 4 had read a brochure or online information.
- Seventeen in 100 had watched a video or attended a presentation.
- Eleven in 100 had signed a waiver form, but had no other educational information.
- Nearly half had received no concussion education at all.
As you might expect, it was more common for parents of children who play sports to have gotten some kind of concussion education than for parents of nonsports kids (58% vs. 31%).
Some education is better than none, but, according to Sarah J. Clark, associate director of the Mott national poll, “The way the concussion information is delivered is linked to the parents' confidence about managing their child's injury." Clark is also a research scientist at the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics/University of Michigan Medical School.
"Many schools mandate that a waiver form … be signed, but the danger is that parents will skip over information to get to that required signature line," she said in a news release.
More than 6 in 10 parents who watched a video or a presentation rated it as very useful. About 4 in 10 parents who read a brochure or online information rated that as very useful. Only 11 in 100 parents whose only concussion education was signing a waiver form reported that was very useful.
Parents lacking sufficient information about concussion, and its potential for brain injury, won’t know what to do if their child is injured.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 175,000 children are treated every year in U.S. emergency rooms for concussions related to sports or recreational activities, including bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer.
Although it’s never a minor event, a concussion affects children differently from adults. The healing process is different, and getting more than one concussion in a short period is particularly dangerous for kids.
All parents, but especially those with sports-playing youngsters, should get become informed about what is concussion, how to monitor its symptoms and when to seek medical attention. Until symptoms have subsided, parents should limit the child’s physical activity, and maybe mental activity including homework, to allow the brain to heal. (See our blog, “Getting Back Into the Game After Suffering a Concussion.”) Watch the video from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital here.