How Much Do Athletes Know About Concussion Symptoms?

by Tony Doran, Psy.D.
HeadFirst Concussion Care Program Director

Only a few studies have ever been conducted to examine the efforts that hospitals, universities and communities are making to educate children about the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Fortunately, the University of Florida is one of the few institutions who has done some work in this area. Their recent survey of 334 varsity high school football players from 11 Florida high schools uncovered some interesting, yet unsurprising, results.

Footballs - Question Mark

The conclusion that University of Florida researchers drew was that most of the high schoolers did not know or could not associate some of the symptoms that they might experience with a concussion, including nausea, neck pain, and trouble concentrating.

In fact, even with parents or guardians signing a consent form indicating they discussed concussion awareness with their child, nearly half of the study’s athletes suggested they had not.

At HeadFirst Concussion Care, our own research team recently conducted a brief survey at a local high school during the athletes’ annual sports physicals.

Our team asked high schoolers if they knew the difference between various medical injuries, including orthopedic injuries, cardiac emergencies, mTBI’s, and dehydration.

We found that these youth athletes had some knowledge of mTBI but we also learned that many of the teenagers in our sample were uninformed about dehydration and cardiac emergencies.

Conducting this research is so important because it shapes the ways we can improve our education and training.  Knowledge is the most important key to reducing the number of concussions, especially multiple traumas.

Monitoring educational programs in high schools, middle schools and recreation programs is extremely important to HeadFirst so we can find out where to direct our educational efforts to keep children, parents and coaches informed.

HeadFirst-Doc-is-InIs it OK to drink alcohol or smoke a joint ever now and then with a mTBI?

As a former military guy, I’m nearly duty-bound to remind others that using cannabis is still illegal in Maryland. This, in itself, should provide additional motivation for avoiding the drug.

As a dad, I’m stunned that more private schools in the area don’t conduct mandatory random drug tests.

Research is still ongoing, but adding chemicals to the brain, including cannabis, when it is injured and recovering would most likely add to one’s recovery time. I recommend staying away from all brain stimulants and depressants while recovering from an mTBI. This includes not only cannabis and alcohol, but also caffeine products.  — Dr. D.

Emotional Symptoms of a Concussion Last Longer than Physical Problems, Study Finds

by Tony Doran, Psy.D.
HeadFirst Concussion Care Program Director

An interesting new study has recently been released from Children’s Hospital in Boston, which finds that the emotional symptoms of a concussion often longer than the physical repercussions like headache, blurred vision, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Researchers found that, while symptoms such as headaches and dizziness show up initially after a concussion, emotional symptoms show up a bit later and can last much longer.


The study tracked 235 children aged 11 to 22 with diagnosed concussions for three months. Among the findings: most children recovered within two weeks after the injury, but 25 percent still had headache a month after their injury. Additionally, more than 20 percent suffered from fatigue, and nearly 20 percent reported taking longer to think for a month after their concussion.

Although the word is getting out, parents and caregivers should expect that recovery from a head trauma that caused a significant neurological event — a change in cognitive, emotional or behavioral processing — will take weeks of treatment to reach recovery. In addition to brain rest and a gradual return to full activity, medical providers use a host of treatments to help individuals fully recover from a traumatic brain injury.