Sports and recreational activities are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among young people. Even limited-contact, limited-collision sports—such as soccer and baseball—put youth at increased risk for sustaining head injuries, especially mild TBI (also called concussion). For young athletes, parents play an important role in protecting health and safety, typically taking the lead in assessing injury risk, managing injuries, and promoting health-seeking behaviors in their children. As a result, the standard of care a young athlete receives after sustaining a concussion primarily relies on parents’ ability to identify, manage, and seek pediatric health care for TBI in their children.
Recently, two sports management experts collaborated to examine attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of sports-related TBI among parents of youth soccer athletes. The researchers surveyed 419 parents from the five largest organized youth soccer programs in the United States, asking them questions about their experiences with concussions, their understanding of the severity of concussions, their knowledge about concussion symptoms, and other factors related to their attitudes and beliefs about this injury. The research partners found that:
- Most (85%) parents believed that concussion is a serious injury.
- Less than one-third (27.9%) of parents thought that their child potentially could sustain a concussion during the upcoming soccer season.
- Parents who had received prior concussion education were more likely to agree that concussion is a serious injury, and they better understood that their children are at risk of sustaining concussions while playing soccer.
In general, parents of youth soccer players recognize the severity of concussion but fail to understand that soccer places their children at high risk for this injury. Because parents with prior concussion education reported the best understanding and appreciation of concussion risk and management, the researchers suggested that education initiatives for parents are an effective way to promote health and safety among youth athletes. Further research is necessary to design and implement a soccer-specific, parent-targeted concussion education curriculum.
Kim S & Connaughton DP. Youth soccer parents’ attitudes and perceptions about concussions. Journal of Adolescent Health. (June 2020).