USU Student Researcher Presenting Findings About Student-Athlete Concussion Trends

Mar 1, 2018

USU undergrad researcher Josh Hansen, left, and faculty mentor Breanna Studenka are studying why collegiate athletes report, or don't report, concussive symptoms. Hansen presents to state legislators Feb. 28, on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
Credit usu.edu

Almost half a million student athletes compete in 24 different sports at a collegiate level. Many of these athletes will suffer concussions. 

Josh Hansen, a pre-med student at Utah State University, found differences in health care-seeking behaviors among certain racial groups. But when it comes to NCAA sports, the racial groups didn’t make a difference.

“Maybe it suggests that there are stronger identities that athletes develop as a football player, or as a volleyball player or as a soccer player rather than the culture that they grew up with,” Hansen said.

The interesting statistic Hansen found in the study were the differences in gender.

“Women were much more likely to report a concussion,” he said. “Whereas men were more likely to conceal it.”

Hansen decided to dig deeper and look at the sport where concussions are most controversial.

“Football players were much less likely to report a concussion than all other athletes,” Hansen said. “To me that just shows that there’s a sense of bravado or a sense of hiding a concussion from a coach for maybe a variety of reasons.”

Reasons Hansen said could jeopardize their future.

“If they lose their starting spot or they lose their scholarship perhaps even lose the opportunity to finish their undergraduate degree,” he said.

Hansen said he wants to help change the culture in NCAA athletics, but he feels like a little fish in a big pond.

“I think everybody needs to be concerned with the health of our athletes,” he said. “They’re high-level athletes, but they’re still somebody’s kid, they’re still a person outside of the sport. I think there needs to be a general concern for their safety and well-being as well.”

This week Hansen will be presenting his research on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City.