The purpose of the study was to investigate concussion history, knowledge, injury identification, and management strategies among athletes, coaches, and medical staff in Italian club level football (soccer) clubs. Surveys (N=727) were distributed among Italian football clubs. Athletes' surveys were designed to evaluate athlete knowledge of concussive signs and symptoms and injury reporting. Coaches' surveys explored the understanding of concussive signs and symptoms and management practices. Medical staff surveys explored the standard of care regarding concussions. A total of 342 surveys were returned, for a 47% response rate. Descriptive analyses indicated 10% of athletes sustaining a concussion in the past year and 62% of these injuries were not reported, primarily due to the athletes not thinking the injury was serious enough. Coaches consistently identified non-concussion related symptoms (98.7%), but were unable to identify symptoms associated with concussion (38.9%). Most understood that loss of consciousness is not the sole indicator of injury (82.6%). Medical staff reported a heavy reliance on the clinical exam (92%) and athlete symptom reports (92%) to make the concussion diagnosis and return to play decision, with little use of neurocognitive (16.7%) or balance (0.0%) testing. Italian football athletes appear to report concussions at a rate similar to American football players, with a slightly higher rate of unreported injuries. Most of these athletes were aware they were concussed, but did not feel the injury was serious enough to report. Although coaches served as the primary person to whom concussions were reported, the majority of coaches were unable to accurately identify concussion related symptoms. With little use for neurocognitive and postural control assessments, the medical personnel may be missing injuries or returning athletes to play too soon. Collectively, these findings suggest that athletes, coaches, and medical personnel would benefit from concussion based educational materials on the signs, symptoms, and evaluative techniques of concussion. Key pointsItalian football (soccer) athletes report less than 40% of concussions.Injuries are most commonly reported to coaches, who may not be fully aware of concussive signs and symptoms.International educational measures on concussion awareness and management may be of use.
Keywords: Mild traumatic brain injury; symptoms.