Concussion fears growing in Arizona parents and teens, survey finds
PHOENIX — A new study by the Barrow Neurological Institute finds concussion fears are growing among parents and teens in Arizona.
Nearly 470 parents were surveyed, and 65% of them said they would let their children play contact sports, such as football, soccer and basketball. That’s down from 82% two years ago.
“Football has long caused the most concern among parents of high school student-athletes, but it is clear that concussion fears are rising for other contact sports,” said Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.
Football is indeed on the minds of many parents, as more of them are becoming opposed to letting their children participate in the sport. According to the survey, 40% said they would not allow it, compared to 30% in 2016.
Parents’ concerns over football are getting across as evident by the 26 percent drop in boys and girls playing football over the last four seasons, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
The survey also found more parents feel school sports follow better concussion protocols than club sports. Nearly two-thirds of parents agreed that most club sports lack oversight to diagnose and treat concussions.
Concussion fears are also strongly impacting teens, like Ella Johnston, a 14-year-old who suffered a concussion while cheerleading eight months ago.
“I just didn’t feel right,” she said describing how she felt after hitting her head twice in two days. “I knew something was wrong.”
She said she plans to go back to cheerleading once she is cleared.
Of the nearly 480 teens who were surveyed, about a third said they decided not to participate in a sport because of concussion fears. That’s twice as many as three years ago.
More teens are also deciding not to play a sport after suffering a concussion. However, more than a quarter of teens said they would play through a concussion if the state championship was on the line.
Cardenas said that statistic alarms him.
“Concussions are not situational,” he said. “Trying to play through a concussion is a terrible idea, and in rare cases it could be fatal.”
Johnston agreed, saying teens should make sure they have been cleared for play before going back after a concussion no matter how important a game is.
“You could be injured worse and get long-term effects that you didn’t have before,” she said.