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  • 'Culture of Resistance' Complicates Concussion Reporting in Youth Sports

    As youth sports programs have grown, so has a "culture of resistance" around concussion reporting and treatment compliance, according to a major study released October 30 by the National Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. The report addresses this culture, as well as a wide range of topics including rates of concussion by sport, effectiveness of protective gear, and the lack of research around concussions in youth.

    The 340-page report, titled Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture is available for free download (1-time registration required) or online viewing, and contains several key findings. Among them:

    • Male high school and college athletes report the highest rates of concussions in football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, and soccer; for females, the highest rates occur in soccer, lacrosse, and basketball.
    • Researchers found "little evidence" that the latest helmet designs reduce the risk of concussions, even though they do reduce the risk of other injuries.
    • Recent sports program efforts to put limits on the number of head contact incidents for a given player are "fundamentally sound" but "without a scientific basis."

    The report acknowledges that while there has been an increase in awareness of the signs and risks of concussion in youth sports culture, "there are indications that the culture shift is not complete. Athletes profess that the game and the team are more important than their individual health and that they may play through a concussion in order to avoid letting down their teammates, coaches, schools, and parents."

    Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) play an important role in the recognition and management of concussions, and the findings in the federal study echo the work APTA has done over several years to promote greater awareness of the dangers of concussions in youth sports and the need for policy changes and guidelines on the state and federal level. Along with legislative efforts, APTA has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the issue of concussions and two APTA members have been appointed to the CDC Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline Workgroup. APTA online concussion resources include a series of podcasts, and a PT's guide to concussions.

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