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Athletes dismiss the dangers of concussion

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Athletes are more aware of the dangers of concussion but most still don’t seek medical attention, according to a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

Co-author Dr J. Scott Delaney of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal believes that using the term “brain injury” rather than “concussion” might lead more athletes to take it seriously when they suffer a blow to the head.

About a quarter of the 454 Canadian Football League (CFL) players questioned believed they had suffered a concussion during the previous season, but 80% of them chose not to seek medical attention.

Only 20% reported the concussion to the medical staff on their team when it happened and only 6% sought out medical attention after the game.

The most common reason given by players was that they did not feel the concussion was serious enough. Others admitted that they didn’t want to be removed from a game or risk missing future games by being diagnosed with a concussion.

“This is not a problem isolated to CFL players, as we have seen almost identical behaviour in male and female university athletes. What we have to figure out now is how we get athletes to change their behaviour when routine concussion education may not be enough,” Delaney said.

“Maybe we should just call it brain injury, which it what it is,” he suggested. “Maybe that would drive it home a little more.

“Concussions are so ubiquitous, maybe something as simple as changing the word we use can reinforce the severity of the injury. It might just change the culture if people said ‘She injured her brain. This is serious.'”