Tracey Covassin, Ph. D. Tracey Covassin, Ph. D.   IN: Prevention & Risk Reduction, Identification & Diagnosis   Tagged: ,  
  • Tracey Covassin, Ph. D.

    Author: Associate Professor and licensed athletic trainer at Michigan State University in the Departments of Kinesiology and Intercollegiate Athletics. Sport-related concussion researcher on sex and age differences in concussion outcomes, neurocognitive impairments, and issues associated with multiple concussions. Currently directing a multi-site high school and college sport-concussion outreach program in the Mid-Michigan area.

  • Tracey Covassin, Ph. D.

Increase Concussion Reporting By Changing ‘Play Through Pain’ and ‘Show No Weakness’ Sport Culture

Sport-related concussion is a growing health concern, particularly in collegiate populations.

Between 1.6 and 3.8 million sport- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries occur annually in the U.S (1) and comprise approximately 5-9% of all high school and collegiate athletic injuries. (2) Approximately 40% of high school and collegiate student-athletes do not report their concussion symptoms to an authoritative figure. (3-5) Athletes who do not report their sport-related concussions can experience worse recovery outcomes (e.g., chronic post-concussion syndrome). (6) Student-athletes do not report sport-related concussion due to lack of awareness, fear of removal from participation, and not wanting to let their teammates down. (3, 5,7) Although raising awareness and improving sport-related concussion knowledge is critical, these outcomes do not guarantee changes in attitudes and reporting behaviors. (5, 8-10) Finding ways to change the culture of sport-related concussion is crucial to improving the health and wellness of student-athletes.

Sport-related concussion requires a change in our “play through pain” culture to ensure the short and long term health of our high school and collegiate student-athletes. The current “play through pain” and “show no weakness” culture may be appropriate for certain musculoskeletal injuries, but not brain injuries such as sport-related concussion. Programs that increase sport-related concussion knowledge and awareness and translate these changes into attitude and behavioral improvements toward sport-related concussion are critical for changing the sport culture.

The SmartTeam™ #TeamUp4ConcussionSafety concussion education program on this website aims towards changing the culture in athletes. Athletes need to be in a safe environment and feel that they will not be punished by their coaches or teammates if they report their sport-related concussion.  This interactive website will provide coaches, athletes, and parents with information that will help change the culture of reporting behaviors of sports-related concussions. 


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  9. Kroshus E, Daneshvar DH, Baugh CM, et al. NCAA concussion education in ice hockey: an ineffective mandate. Br. J. Sport Med. 2013.
  10. Torres DM, Galetta KM, Phillips HW, et al. Sports-related concussion Anonymous survey of a collegiate cohort. Neurology: Clinical Practice. 2013;3(4):279-287.
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