Educating and Preventing Concussions – A Shared Responsibility

Concussions sustained by athletes in contact sports are currently a hot topic of discussion. With the kickoff of the 2012 NFL season, America’s Sport and the topic of concussions takes center stage. The question that many people are asking: “What is the NFL doing to prevent and care for concussions sustained by players during season?”


 In response, the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league is partnering with the U.S. Army to create a long-term program that focuses on education, prevention, and care for concussions and head trauma. Commissioner Goodell and Genaral Raymond T. Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, state that this program would not only benefit the NFL and the U.S. Army, but would also serve to educate everyone.

The article indicates that the current culture in sports tends to address concussions in the following manner:

    1. Athletes are left to self-report or “self-police” whether they have sustained a concussion or injury.

    2. Concussions are non-visible injuries. Therefore, athletes tend to disregard the symptoms and choose to stay in the game.

    3. Lastly, the pressure to win or succeed tends to outweigh the need for coaches and other leaders within the sport to address concussions suffered by athletes.

 To change this culture in contact sports, the article indicates that it is important to:

       1. Educate athletes at a young age (i.e., youth sports) on the symptoms and long-term affects of concussions.

       2. Athletes cannot be expected to self-report a concussion. There is a need to create an environment where everyone (this includes teammates, coaches, and family) is involved in the process of recognizing and reporting concussion symptoms.

       3. Finally, to create an environment where everyone is supportive of the recovery process.

 With the proper time and support, most athletes are able to fully recover from a concussion. On the other hand, some athletes may find it difficult to mentally return to their sport or perform at their best. These athletes may experience anxiety related to: fear of re-injury, lack focus, and/or lack patience in the recovery process.

If you have questions related to your return to sport post-injury or know an athlete who is hesitant to return to competition, contact SPINw to see how we can help.

Click here for the NFL and U.S. Army Concussion Program Article