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Knowledge about sports-related concussion: is the message getting through to coaches and trainers?
  1. Peta E White1,
  2. Joshua D Newton2,
  3. Michael Makdissi3,
  4. S John Sullivan4,
  5. Gavin Davis3,
  6. Paul McCrory3,
  7. Alex Donaldson1,
  8. Michael T Ewing2,
  9. Caroline F Finch1
  1. 1Centre for Healthy and Safe Sport, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Marketing, Peninsula Campus, Monash University, Frankston, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne Brain Centre—Austin Campus, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Professor Caroline F Finch, Centre for Healthy and Safe Sport, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria 3353, Australia; c.finch{at}


Aim The need for accurate diagnosis and appropriate return-to-play decisions following a concussion in sports has prompted the dissemination of guidelines to assist managing this condition. This study aimed to assess whether key messages within these guidelines are reflected in the knowledge of coaches and sports trainers involved in community sport.

Methods An online knowledge survey was widely promoted across Australia in May–August 2012 targeting community Australian Football (AF) and Rugby League (RL) coaches and sports trainers. 260 AF coaches, 161 AF sports trainers, 267 RL coaches and 228 RL sports trainers completed the survey. Knowledge scores were constructed from Likert scales and compared across football codes and respondent groups.

Results General concussion knowledge did not differ across codes but sports trainers had higher levels than did coaches. There were no significant differences in either concussion symptoms or concussion management knowledge across codes or team roles. Over 90% of respondents correctly identified five of the eight key signs or symptoms of concussion. Fewer than 50% recognised the increased risk of another concussion following an initial concussion. Most incorrectly believed or were uncertain that scans typically show damage to the brain after a concussion occurs. Fewer than 25% recognised, and >40% were uncertain that younger players typically take longer to recover from concussion than adults.

Conclusions The key messages from published concussion management guidelines have not reached community sports coaches and sports trainers. This needs to be redressed to maximise the safety of all of those involved in community sport.

  • Concussion
  • Head injuries

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