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Study: NFHS "Concussion in Sports" Course Making a Difference

By Brandon Jones on June 15, 2015 blog

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The issue of concussion in sports, whether it is youth soccer leagues or the National Football League, has become a thoroughly discussed and researched topic in the past few years. Among national sports organizations, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has been a leader in educating coaches, athletes, parents and others about concussions.

Perhaps the most successful service provided by the NFHS has been the creation of the online education course – “Concussion in Sports” – which was started in 2010 in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The course, which is available for free at nfhslearn.com, aims to educate coaches and others on the significance of concussions, how to recognize their signs and symptoms, how to respond to a suspected concussion and the proper steps to help players return safely after recovering.

Since its launch five years ago, nearly two million courses have been delivered. While that number is impressive, a recent study indicates that the course has been effective in educating users.

This past month, a study on the course was published in the Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation. The study, which examined the reach and knowledge change among individuals who took the course, was co-authored by doctors at the CDC and Dan Schuster, director of coach education at the NFHS.

The most promising aspect of the study was its analysis of the knowledge change of participants. Those who take the course are administered a pre- and post-test to assess how it changes their understanding of concussions and the proper methods of recognizing and responding to a potential brain injury.

The study revealed that the percentage of respondents answering all questions correctly rose from 21 percent on the pre-test, to 60 percent on the post-test.

The study revealed that the percentage of respondents answering all questions correctly rose from 21 percent on the pre-test, to 60 percent on the post-test. This result demonstrates the potential of online courses, such as the ones offered by the NFHS, to be effective educational tools that increase awareness of important health issues such as concussions.

 “We are thrilled about the reach the course has made,” Schuster said. “Since individuals can take the course on their own time and convenience, we will continue to use it as a tool to reach thousands more. From the start, we set out to change the culture surrounding concussions; and by educating so many already, we are starting to change how they are perceived and managed in high school sports.”

While these findings are a step in the right direction, the NFHS and CDC are determined to keep progressing, Schuster said.

“We are updating the course this summer with new materials from the CDC, including new videos and return to play guidelines. These changes are being made with the end goal being to ensure that students can participate and benefit from high school sports in a safer environment.”

The course can be taken at here.

The study can be viewed here.