Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP
Licensed Psychologist
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Dissertation Summary:

A Preliminary Investigation of Active and Retired NFL Players’ Knowledge of Concussions


        The incidence of sports-related concussions occurring               within the USA has been estimated to be approximately            300,000 per year. The preponderance of credible experimental      and clinical evidence pertaining to the adverse effects of       concussion indicates that the brain is injured as a result of a concussion. Yet concussions are often discounted as being insignificant by athletes, trainers, coaches, and physicians.      

        A six question survey was designed to assess active and retired National Football League members’ fundamental     knowledge of concussions. This investigation is the first study designed to assess NFL players’ knowledge of concussions. An analysis of the findings revealed that many NFL players lack  accurate and essential knowledge pertaining to various aspects      of a concussion.      

        Given the players’ apparent lack of knowledge, it is  reasonable to assume that these athletes may have sustained concussions without recognizing that they experienced a brain  injury. The complex, varying and individualized central nervous system response to brain insult and resultant concussion injury    not only justifies, but requires a comprehensive assessment       from a readily available and qualified multidisciplinary team of health-care providers. This justification is based on the       potential pervasive cognitive, emotional and physical       impairments which can result from sustaining a concussion. Furthermore, sports team health-care personnel need to focus primarily on the athletes’ health and well-being, and not      minimize an injury or primarily concentrate on the players’     capacity to perform on the field. This expanded focus is      necessary in order to avoid any real or perceived conflicts of    interest emerging in the concussion management and related    return to play decision-making process.

         As the field of sports related concussions is in its         infancy, it would seem reasonable for the field to develop clear    and comprehensive conflict of interest policies pertaining to         not only concussion management, but also to research. Recommendations for multidisciplinary  educational approaches pertaining to the adverse implications and effects of      concussions, and future research, are also offered. These recommendations are suggested to foster trust in athlete        health care and sports related concussion research from         athletes and the general public, and to allow athletes the     proactive ability to make informed choices regarding their         injury and corresponding health.


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