Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Thomas Buckley

Committee Member 1

Barry Joyner

Committee Member 2

Trey Burdette


Context: Concussions are common sports-related head injuries, with an estimated 1.6-3.8 million sport-related traumatic brain injuries occurring each year. Proper diagnosis of a concussion often lies in self-reporting symptoms, however, an estimated 50-80% of concussions remain unreported. More than half of college athletes indicate they have no head injury knowledge including potential consequences, however, more than 80% would have reported a head injury if they had understood the potential risks. This lack of knowledge may create the potential for unrecognized concussive injury, therefore causing vast underreporting. Objective: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the current reported rates, unreported rates, and potentially unrecognized rates of concussions in collegiate athletes who have recently completed their athletic career. Design: Cross-sectional, retrospective study. Setting: Questionnaire was conducted in a private location as available at host institutions’ athletic training facilities. Participants: We recruited 133 collegiate student-athletes (64.7% female; age:20.92+1.41; 3.04+1.39 years of collegiate athletic experience), who had completed their collegiate athletic career within six months, and had no intention of playing at a professional level, from thirteen colleges and universities of varying athletic division levels. Intervention: Participants were administered a twenty-one item injury history questionnaire, either online or hardcopy. Six of the twenty-one items will pertain specifically to concussions, with the remainder acting as distractors. Test-retest reliability =.92. Main Outcome Measures: The dependent variables include reported concussion rates, unreported rates, and potentially unrecognized rates of concussion. Reported and unreported rates were based on self-reported numbers, while the potentially unrecognized rates were determined by reported undiagnosed potential concussive symptoms. All variables were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Results: Of all participants, 34.1% (45/132) reported suffering a concussion during their collegiate career. The acknowledged unreported rate was 12.8% (17/133), with the primary reasons for not reporting concussion being that the athlete did not want to be pulled from games or practices, or future games or practices. The potentially unrecognized concussion rate was 18.8% (25/133) with the most common symptom being “knocked silly” or “seeing stars”. Overall, 42.9% (57/133) of participants acknowledged at least one of the three primary dependent variables. Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that there is still a lack of concussion reporting and potential lack of recognition in collegiate athletics. This study emphasizes the need for continued education of athletes and coaches, and well as the necessity of suspicion and awareness by athletic trainers to improve athlete reporting.