The study is to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC. The study of 120 high school football players in the Cincinnati area also found that one-quarter had suffered a concussion, and more than half acknowledged they would continue to play with symptoms of a concussion.
"These attitudes could leave young athletes vulnerable to injury from sports-related concussions," said study co-author Brit Anderson, MD, pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Dr. Anderson and her colleagues administered two surveys to the athletes to measure their knowledge of concussions and symptoms as well as their attitudes about playing after a head injury.
Survey results showed that 70 percent of the players had been educated about concussions, and most could identify common signs and symptoms. Headache was identified as a symptom by 93 percent, dizziness by 89 percent, difficulty remembering and sensitivity to light/sound by 78 percent, difficulty concentrating by 76 percent and feeling in a fog by 53 percent.
While 91 percent recognized a risk of serious injury if they returned to play too quickly, only half would always or sometimes report their concussion symptoms to their coach.
"Despite their knowledge, many athletes in our sample reported that they would not tell their coach about symptoms and would continue to play," Dr. Anderson said. "A small percentage even responded that athletes have a responsibility to play in important games with a concussion."
The researchers found no association between a student's knowledge score and attitude score on the surveys. "In other words, athletes who had more knowledge about concussions were not more likely to report symptoms," Dr. Anderson said.
"Although further study needs to be done," she concluded, "it is possible that concussion education alone may not be enough to promote safe concussion behaviors in high school football players."