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Barrow Institute: More parents, teen athletes worried about concussions

(Ali Vetnar/KTAR News)

One in five Arizona high school athletes report they have sustained a sports-related concussion.

That’s according to a new survey by Phoenix’s Barrow Neurological Institute. It also shows Arizona parents and teens are walking away from football in increasing numbers.

In January 2016, about 68 percent of Arizona parents said they would allow their children to play football.

That number had dropped to 59 percent in January 2018.

In addition, girls report that they are sustaining sports-related concussions at nearly the same rate as boys, the poll shows. One in five girls have walked away from their sport because of concerns surrounding concussions and their long term impacts.

Nearly eight in 10 teens who have had a concussion admit to being afraid of the long-term effects of multiple concussions, a 33 percent increase from 2016.

“These numbers indicate parents and student-athletes are more informed but more fearful of sport-related concussion and its possible long-term health effects,” says Dr. Javier Cárdenas, director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.

“Our challenge is to continue to educate the public while making youth sports as safe as possible.”

Football still has by far the most participants among high school sports, nationally and in Arizona, and it has adopted rule changes aimed to make the game less dangerous. But less parents are willing to allow their children to play the sport – and more boys are choosing not to participate.

Other areas noted in the survey include:

  • One in four Arizona boys say they won’t play football because of concussion fears.
  • A quarter of teens who play sports say they have not received concussion education.
  • Only three in 10 parents say that schools and sport teams have done enough to prevent concussions.
  • Four out of five teens say they would tell their coach if they thought they had a concussion. But only one in five would tell their parents – a big drop of one in three from last year.
  • Nearly seven out of 10 teens who suffered concussions missed class time as a result.
  • 90 percent of teens say concussions are a “serious medical condition”; however, a quarter say they would play through it if the state championship was on the line.

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