Why Professional Football Players Chose Not to Reveal Their Concussion Symptoms During a Practice or Game

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine why professional football players in Canada decided not to seek medical attention during a game or practice when they believed they had suffered a concussion.

Design:

Retrospective survey.

Setting:

Preseason Canadian Football League training camps.

Participants:

Four hundred fifty-four male professional football players.

Main Outcome Measures:

Reasons athletes did not seek medical attention for a presumed concussion during the previous season, how often this occurred and how important these reasons were in the decision process.

Results:

One hundred six of the 454 respondents (23.4%) believed they had suffered a concussion during their previous football season and 87 of the 106 (82.1%) did not seek medical attention for a concussion at least once during that season. The response “Did not feel the concussion was serious/severe and felt you could still continue to play with little danger to yourself” was the most commonly listed reason (49/106) for not seeking medical attention for a presumed concussion. Many players answered that they did not seek medical attention because they did not want to be removed from a game (42/106) and/or they did not want to risk missing future games (41/106) by being diagnosed with a concussion.

Conclusions:

Some professional football players who believed they had suffered a concussion chose not to seek medical attention at the time of injury. Players seemed educated about the concussion evaluation process and possible treatment guidelines, but this knowledge did not necessarily translate into safe and appropriate behavior at the time of injury.

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