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Survey: Arizona Teens Aware Of Concussion Risks

By Mariana Dale, Mark Brodie
Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 - 4:56pm
Updated: Friday, August 26, 2016 - 6:24pm
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(Photo Courtesy Barrow Neurological Institute)
This still from a video animation shows how a collision in football can cause a concussion.
(Photo Courtesy of Barrow Neurological Institute)
Dr. Javier Cárdenas

Freshman Andrew Wachtel learned how to identify a concussion before he stepped onto the high school football field. So after practice last week he knew something wasn’t right.

“The thing that really was defining was I was seeing spots and also it was just hard for me to focus and I just felt confused,” Wachtel said.

He later found out he had a concussion.

Wachtel is part of growing group of Arizona teens who are more aware of concussions than before.

That’s one finding from an online survey from the Barrow Neurological Institute released Friday. The institute surveyed 304 students between the ages of 14 and 18 in June. About half were student athletes.

Among the findings:

  • 61 percent said they are more aware of the symptoms and risks of concussions than before.
  • 75 percent of athletes say they have received concussion education.
  • 79 percent of athletes would tell their coach and 30 percent would tell their parents if they suspected a concussion.
  • One-third of senior student athletes in high school say they sustained a concussion.

Javier Cárdenas is the director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center at the Barrow Neurological Institution. He said the number of concussions reported by seniors was higher than expected.

He hypothesized it could be because of a few reasons including increased education, media coverage and how concussions are diagnosed.

“We have lowered the threshold for the diagnosis of concussion in our assessment,” Cárdenas said.

Most concussions occur without a loss of consciousness, Cárdenas said. 

Cárdenas helped create the Barrow Brainbook, a concussion education program used by all student athletes in the Arizona Interscholastic Association. New this year, ASU athletes will also have to complete the program.

Wachtel, the high school freshman, completed the Barrow Brainbook before he started sports. He plans to return to football as soon as he’s cleared.

“There are risks are everything we do daily, and that includes sports,” Wachtel said. “It’s not going to affect the way I play my sport ... but I realize you have to be careful and you have to be able to recognize the symptoms.” 

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