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Background: The underreporting of sport-related concussion (SRC) is a barrier to connecting college athletes to medical and rehabilitation services needed for managing deficits associated with SRCs. Although the task of reporting a SRC symptom to a coach or an athletic trainer may appear simple, the factors associated with an athlete’s willingness to report an injury are not fully understood. Most of the research on college athlete’s reporting behaviors has focused on the impact of individual factors, such as an athlete’s sex, sport contact level, previous history of concussion, and knowledge of signs and symptoms of SRCs. However, information about the influence of post-concussion cognitive-communication impairments on concussion reporting is limited, even though many individuals who have had a SRC experience changes in their cognitive-communication functions. Knowledge about athletes’ concerns for changes to their cognitive-communication abilities is needed to better understand the reason for their choosing to report or conceal their SRC symptoms.

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to (1) replicate previous research examining the influence of individual factors on SRC reporting intentions and (2) expand on the current body of research by examining the influence of perceived changes to cognitive-communication functions on college athletes’ willingness to report a SRC symptom to a coach or athletic trainer.

Methods and Procedures: A 48-item questionnaire was developed and administered to 193 collegiate athletes. The questionnaire collected demographic information as well as information about the athletes’ intentions to report a SRC in a variety of situations.

Results: The findings indicated that collegiate athletes’ SRC reporting intentions did not change as a factor of their sex, year in college, the level of contact associated with their sport, or the number of previously diagnosed concussions they had. Furthermore, the study identified eight SRC symptoms that were most likely to be reported by college athletes and two SRC symptoms that were least likely to be reported.

Conclusion: The results from this study demonstrated that collegiate athletes would be more likely to report a future SRC if they were to experience changes to physical symptoms that are commonly taught in SRC education initiatives. The results also indicated that college athletes may be less concerned about cognitive-communication deficits that could impact their ability to function in school or at work. The findings support the need to include more information about the impact of SRC on cognitive-communication functions in concussion education initiatives.




Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

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