Park City High School students coordinate survey to understand public knowledge about concussions
In a town obsessed with winter sports and other recreational activities, head injuries are almost unavoidable. A few months ago, students from Park City High School set out to discover just how common concussions are, as well as what the community knows about the injuries.
Four students worked on the project through the school’s Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) program. The teens worked with a new business in town called The Sports Neurology Clinic to perform market research and survey the community about their knowledge of concussions. They discovered that head injuries are extremely common, yet people have many misconceptions about the healing process.
The students, McKenna Reed, River Hancey, Martina Nedakovic and McKinna Lee, recently wrote up their findings. They were published on the clinic’s website.
Reed said she and the rest of her cohort were most surprised to learn that many coaches believed athletes should refrain from physical activity for multiple weeks after a concussion.
Cara Baxter, regional director of The Sports Neurology Clinic and the mentor on the project, said it’s a common misconception that people need complete rest after a concussion. She said more recent scientific research shows that some physical activity after the first couple of days is beneficial to the brain.
Of the 100 people the students surveyed, 68 percent believed an athlete could fully heal after a concussion. Baxter said with proper healing, most people with head injuries can heal completely. The students also found that 49 percent of the people surveyed have had a concussion at some point in their lives, and another 95 percent knew someone who has had a concussion. The students surveyed athletes, coaches and other Parkites over the course of two months.
“That was just kind of surprising to see how many people are affected by concussions,” Reed said.
Although the survey results were limited, Baxter said the data helps her better understand the clientele in Park City. She works at the clinic as a physical therapist.
But she also enjoyed working with students interested in the topic. The students were in the first cohort of PCCAPS’ new health science sports medicine track. The teens learned the realities of starting a business in the health sciences.
As part of the project, the students were also able to shadow Baxter and observe how she works with patients after they have a concussion. Reed said that was the most exciting part for her and the rest of her cohort.
The students learned other skills, such as how to perform market research and how to present it to a group. They spoke to the entire PCCAPS program about their project at the end of the semester in December.
Reed said the process was a good learning experience, and Baxter said it was a way for her to teach students and some members of the community about athlete brain research. Baxter is continuing to work with students in the PCCAPS program this semester.
A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.