Term of Award

Spring 1999

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

James L. McMillan

Committee Member 1

W. Kent Guion

Committee Member 2

A. Barry Joyner


The purpose of this study was to determine which classification system, referral, and return to participation policy certified athletic trainers used for managing a concussion and what external factors influence which system and criteria the certified athletic trainers use. Twelve hundred subjects were sent questionnaires, with 428 of 451 returned surveys completed and used for analysis. The questionnaire contained questions pertaining to how certified athletic trainers classified each grade of a concussion, determined return to participation, classification system used, number of concussions managed, and years of experience, and sports they currently worked with. Demographic information related to work setting, including the NATA district in which athletic training education was completed.

A cross-tab analysis showed there was inconsistencies how an ATC defined each grade of concussion and determined return to participation compared to what system they stated they used. Further cross-tab analyses revealed that Colorado Medical Society's guidelines for classification was most frequently used in the collegiate, high school, and clinical setting and Cantu's return to participation criteria was most frequently used in the collegiate and high. Correlation analysis showed no relationship between the number of years a certified athletic trainer worked with athletes, number of years practicing, number of years certified, and number of concussions managed and which classification system and return to participation system they stated they used. There were no differences found between how an ATC classified each grade of concussion and determining return to participation and where they completed their education and where they currently worked.

The results from this research displayed many inconsistencies and discrepancies for how ATCs classifies a concussion and when they determine an athlete may return to participation. The ATCs are stating they use one system to classify a concussion but they are actually using another system to define each grade. There was no relationship between the experience the ATC had and which classification system and return to participation system they used.

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