Harris Poll Finds Misconceptions About Concussions

Oct 7, 2015

Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins, executive director of the UPMC Concussion Program, examines a Pittsburgh area high school athlete.
Credit UPMC

Most Penguins’ fans would be aware Sidney Crosby missed 46 games in 2013 due to a concussion, but a recent Harris poll conducted for UPMC found that the vast majority of American adults are unaware of the definition of a concussion and that it is a treatable injury.

“There is not a lot of discussion at that level of the injury.” said Micky Collins, executive director of UPMC's Sports Medicine Concussion Program. “I think that part of the problem is there are a lot of misperceptions about concussions out there. The definition is just one example of that.”

The study also found that there is a very high level of concern and fear a cross the country regarding concussions. About 41 percent of adults believe that getting a concussion is a “living nightmare.”

“It’s a treatable injury,” Collins said. “We have made tremendous advances in how we assess and conceptualize the injury... There are six different types of concussions, and ... we actually have effective rehabilitation and treatment.”

Through proper treatment, the likelihood that someone is more vulnerable to repeated brain injury lessens, he said.

“When I started doing this, there wasn’t much conversation about it, and now the pendulum has swung so widely to the point where there’s a lot of concern and one might even call it hysteria around the injury and I think the truth is inbetween.”

The Harris poll found that about 1 in 3 parents live in fear that their child will get a concussion, and 1 in 4 will not let their child play contact sports because of fear of concussions.

“It’s a shame that if people are making these decisions without the right information that’s too bad because it could rob a child of a very important part of development.”

Nearly 30 leading concussion clinicians and researchers from across the country will attend the Targeted Evaluation and Active Management Approaches to Treating Concussions at UPMC on Oct. 15 and 16.

“It’s the first ever meeting that is devoted to this topic,” Collins said. “We hope we can come together and come up with a conceptual framework for treating the injury.”

Collins said he hopes that through the meeting the public can become more aware of the truth about concussions through good science and good research.