The study found that black athletes recognize fewer concussion symptoms than white athletes

Key points

  • Black college athletes reported less knowledge of concussion symptoms (CSK) than their white peers.
  • Although both rely on athletic trainers, black college athletes reported that CSK would contact referees, while white athletes reported CSK’s school sources, medical websites, and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).
  • Compared with their white peers, black college athletes are less likely to recognize concussion symptoms such as “stupefaction,” nausea or vomiting, irritability or anger.

Concussion is generally considered to be extremely challenging to manage.A recently published study Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation It has been shown that black college athletes report less knowledge of concussion symptoms (CSK) than white athletes.

Due to the high probability of concussion while participating in college sports, the low incidence of CSK among black athletes is worrying, especially considering that discrimination may affect other health outcomes.

After the murder of George Floyd, more and more Americans are beginning to realize their complicity with white supremacy, so this research needs to be taken seriously. Black college athletes should get CSK fairly.


In this study, CSK was evaluated based on a convenient sample of 768 NCAA college athletes from 7 institutions in 3 geographic regions in the United States after completing the questionnaire. These college athletes came from 17 NCAA-approved sports.

Approximately 83% of the participants were white, and 17% were considered black because it also included athletes who were determined to be of black ancestry, while few chose other racial identities, limiting further comparisons.

These findings reflect similar studies at the high school level, which indicate that black athletes have lower CSK, which may be related to schools with lower socioeconomic status, which may lack sports coaches.

Meaningful knowledge transfer

Dr. Vernon Williams, MD, a motor neurologist and founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine of the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, said: “We not only need to create a level playing field in concussion education, but we also need There is a need for meaningful knowledge transfer-to connect with athletes in a culturally sensitive way, to link information related to our athletes, and to expect rational and positive results when the desired behavior is followed by the educational information.”

Dr. Vernon Williams, MD

We not only need to create a level playing field in concussion education, but we also need to carry out meaningful knowledge transfer-to connect with athletes in a culturally sensitive way, and information about our athletes…

— Dr. Vernon Williams, MD

Williams explained that black athletes need to use language and other communication methods they can trust to get information from people they can contact. He warned that trying to provide facts, data, and fear is unlikely to prompt behavior change, because meaningful knowledge transfer, not just education, should be the goal.

Williams emphasized how black athletes are disadvantaged by differences in income, housing, education, and other measures related to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.

Williams said: “Blacks are at a serious disadvantage. There may be several contributing factors. These factors include but are not limited to socioeconomic status, poor school resources, lack of professional healthcare providers, and lack of opportunities for a certified coaching staff. , And lack of access to culturally competent medical service providers.”

Williams continued, “Black athletes also face prejudice related to the interpretation of reported symptoms, differences in familiarity with medical/symptom-related terms, and many other factors. This problem does not start in college, but in college. During this period, we began to separate the youth movement, continue to enter high school, and further intensified in the university environment.”

Concussion and mental health effects

Dr. Howard Pratt of the Community Health Organization of South Florida said: “It is important to note that usually people do not start playing high-touch sports like football as adults. They can start playing football at a very young age. 5 years old If they have this opportunity, they can play in college and enter their careers, which will increase their risk of concussion and mental illness.”

Dr. Howard Pratt, do

They can start playing football at the age of five, and if given the opportunity, they can eventually play in college and enter their careers, which will increase their risk of concussion and mental illness.

— Dr. Howard Pratt, DO

Pratt explained how the atmosphere of not acknowledging the injury is related to worrying about missing key games due to a concussion and therefore not being seen by recruiters, especially if you come from a lower socio-economic background, this may be your way out because of this Sports is not only a way to take care of yourself, but also a way to support your family. ”

Pratt said: “After a person has repeated concussions, they may have problems with impulse control and are more likely to develop depression. If they have any previous mental health problems, these problems may get worse. It’s all It may lead to inability to deal with drug abuse and other skills.”

What this means to you

Black college athletes report lower CSK than their white peers, which may delay the recognition and treatment of concussions, which may affect mental health. Although the NCAA hopes that all athletes can receive CSK education, these survey results indicate that a more targeted approach is needed to address this gap. In view of other health gaps faced by black athletes, it is necessary to increase public health efforts to resolve gaps in income, housing, and education.