Children who participate in sports and recreational activities commonly experience mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion. Every year, more than 150,000 children in the United States go to the emergency department for concussion and concussion-related injuries, representing a significant public health problem among youth. Given that concussions in adolescence can significantly impact a child’s ability to function academically and socially, there is a critical need to understand how and why these injuries occur. Additionally, researchers want to know how young people themselves think about and understand head injuries.
A team of researchers in Florida examined the results of a survey that was administered to middle schoolers before and after a 45-minute educational intervention about concussion. A pre-intervention survey assessed students’ safety habits, knowledge, and attitudes about head injuries. During the education sessions, students learned about the causes, symptoms, and outcomes associated with mild TBI, as well as the behaviors that are more likely to result in these injuries. Afterwards, the students took the same survey again. Researchers compared results of the pre- and post-education surveys, finding that:
- Nearly half of the children never wore a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboard, and only 68 percent knew that Florida has child helmet laws.
- The students reported that the education session increased their TBI knowledge and changed their attitudes towards safety.
- After the educational intervention, the children reported wearing seatbelts more often.
Even a mild brain injury can cause serious complications for young people, including cognitive, behavioral, and neurological deficits—all of which can impair a child’s ability to thrive in school, at home, and among peers. Many adolescents are unaware of these negative outcomes. Fortunately, even a brief educational intervention can increase children’s knowledge about TBI and may encourage safer behaviors and attitudes. Educators and policy makers are urged to consider that schools may provide an optimal setting to implement educational campaigns about concussion.
Stead TS, Daneshevar Y, Ayala S, & Ganti L. Knowledge, awareness, and attitudes regarding concussion among middle schoolers. Cureus. (June 2019).