Two recent studies suggest many parents may lack knowledge or hold misconceptions about concussion. The studies were presented at a preconference symposium on pediatric sports medicine at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in San Diego.

An AAP news release emphasizes the importance of parental knowledge regarding the signs and symptoms of concussion and recognizing it as a brain injury, to ensure that children are diagnosed in a timely manner and receive appropriate treatment.

The release reports that the two separate studies investigated parents’ knowledge of concussion and common misconceptions.

In the first abstract, “Parental Knowledge of Concussion,” a total of 511 parents of children aged 5 to 18 years old who sought care at a pediatric emergency department within 2 weeks of their child sustaining a head injury filled out a 24-item survey. Questions ranged from parental demographics, to the child’s head injury, and general questions linked to parents’ knowledge of concussion and its treatment.

The study’s results suggest that about half of parents correctly identified a concussion as a brain injury that could lead to symptoms such as headache or difficulty concentrating. No parental demographics significantly predicted parents’ knowledge about concussions, the release says.

Additionally, the survey also indicated that nearly 92% of parents were aware that they should stop their child from playing and see a physician if they suspected a concussion. However, the results suggest only 26% were aware of guidelines regarding when their child could return to sports and schoolwork.

Kirstin D. Weerdenburg, MD, FAAP, pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Hospital for Sick Children, Ontario, Canada, explains that the study also highlights “that a physician visit shortly after the injury is important to confirm the diagnosis for parents and to inform parents of return to play/learn guidelines to ensure a proper recovery and prevent a second concussion while the brain is still healing.”

For the second abstract, “Parental Misconceptions Regarding Sports-Related Concussion,” researchers also conducted a survey among parents to assess their knowledge about concussions. The release states that two groups, that included 214 parents whose children were evaluated at a sports medicine clinic for musculoskeletal or mild traumatic brain injuries (group 1) and 250 parents of students at a local private school (group 2), completed the online survey. Survey questions were designed to gauge their knowledge of and attitudes about concussions, as well as demographic information.

While the release notes that the majority of the patients did well, overall many had several misconceptions. About 70% in the first group and 49% in the second group incorrectly believed that brain imaging (CT/MRI scans) could be used to diagnose concussion. About 55% in the first group and 52% in the second group did not know that “bell ringer or ding” is synonymous with concussion.

Survey results also showed reduced breathing rate was incorrectly identified as a symptom by 25% and 29%, respectively. Difficulty speaking was also incorrectly identified as a symptom by 75% and 79%, respectively.

The study reveals that many parents are still in need of education regarding concussion identification and postinjury evaluation, says Tracy Zaslow, senior author, MD, FAAP, medical director of the sports medicine and concussion program at Children’s Orthopaedic Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“Even those highly educated parents were prone to misconceptions,” Zaslow adds, “False perceptions such as the ones pinpointed by our study may impact when medical care is sought after concussion and lead to less than optimal home care.”

[Source(s): Science Daily, American Academy of Pediatrics]