Research News

Research from UW-Madison's Winterstein helps ID factor in concussion reporting

October 16, 2019

A story ​out of the University of Georgia explains new research on sport-related concussions (SRC) that's co-authored by UW-Madison’s Andrew Winterstein and Dee Warmath, a former faculty member at UW-Madison. 

Warmath and Winterstein's study —  which was published in the journal Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach — reveals that knowing how to report a concussion may be a greater factor in prompting athletes to take action than concussion and symptom knowledge. 

Though a critical element of recovery from a concussion is early reporting, studies suggest 50 percent or more of concussion symptoms are concealed by the individual. While there have been many initiatives to encourage SRC awareness, most of these initiatives did not consider reporting skill. 

Winterstein
Winterstein
In their paper, Warmath and Winterstein develop a scale for reporting skill, which is defined as mastery of the actions required to report a concussion. This includes knowing when you don’t know enough to act and need to seek more information, a component that has proven significant in areas like sexual harassment reporting, whistleblowing, and financial wellness. 

To identify issues with concussion reporting, Warmath and Winterstein surveyed a national sample of 1,305 active adults aged 18 to 24 who participated in a variety of sports and activities at different levels of competition. Participants were shown a reporting skill scale and asked to rate how well each statement described them. 

The results suggest that a combination of reporting skill and concussion symptom knowledge offers the most promising solution to increased SRC reporting. According to UGA, the objective is to familiarize the steps of reporting so that when the time comes, obstacles associated with lack of skill and self-efficacy are removed.

Winterstein is a distinguished clinical professor with the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology, where he directs the university’s highly regarded Athletic Training Program. He also is an athletic trainer with University Health Services, and holds affiliate appointments with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. 

Warmath, who is the lead author on the paper, is an assistant professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia.

Visit this link to read the original study.