How Do You Solve a Problem Like Concussion?


Brain injuries may be the worst long-term danger that athletes face, but many players don’t report them. Now a multidisciplinary team of University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers is working to change that by studying the most effective ways to teach athletes and young adults about the importance of reporting when they have suffered a concussion.

“What our study will address is why education and awareness efforts have largely not succeeded in altering the behavior of athletes and other young adults when it comes to reporting concussions.”
Dee Warmath

Although many organizations have tried to raise awareness about the danger of head injuries, athletes continue to behave in the same ways they always have — putting themselves at risk by concealing injuries from coaches, doctors, athletic trainers, and even their parents.

Dee Warmath PhD’12, an assistant professor in the School of Human Ecology, wants to find a better way to communicate with athletes, and so she’s leading a study called Making It Stick: A Social Marketing Experiment to Alter Concussion Attitudes and Behaviors.

“What our study will address is why education and awareness efforts have largely not succeeded in altering the behavior of athletes and other young adults when it comes to reporting concussions,” Warmath says.

The initiative will evaluate the effectiveness of interventions with the young adults who play competitive club sports on the UW–Madison campus. Some 2,500 students participate in these sports, which include softball, baseball, rugby, and ice hockey.

By finding ways to keep young people safe from the long-term effects of injury, UW–Madison and SoHE are moving sports — and society — forward.