FRIDAY, Oct. 12, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Only half of U.S. adults who thought they or their children might have a concussion sought medical treatment, a finding that suggests many people do not understand the seriousness of a potential concussion, a new survey finds.
Not thinking the symptoms were serious enough or assuming they just had a headache were the main reasons people did not seek treatment for their own possible concussions. Three in five parents cited the same reasons for not taking children with head injuries to a doctor.
Seven of 10 respondents incorrectly identified symptoms of concussion, according to the American Osteopathic Association's online survey of more than 1,300 people. The findings were presented at an AOA meeting held in San Diego this week.
Only about one in four children suffered a possible concussion while playing either a school-related or non-school-related sport. The survey also found that children who suffer a head injury while playing sports may be more likely to be evaluated by a medical professional than those who are injured at home.
More than eight in 10 parents in the survey said their children were evaluated by a medical professional, coach or event personnel after they suffered a head injury while playing sports.
Men were more likely than women to report that they had suffered a concussion at some time in their life. Men and respondents aged 18 to 29, however, were most likely to say they did not seek treatment after a head injury because they did not believe the symptoms were serious enough.
About 40 percent of adults said they had suffered a concussion playing sports, making sports the most common cause of concussion in adults. About 30 percent of adults said they had suffered a concussion as the result of accidents at home and away from home.
People of all ages need to understand the seriousness of head injuries and see a doctor if they suspect a concussion, said Dr. Jeffrey Bytomski, an osteopathic family physician and head medical team physician at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
"People don't seem to realize how serious a bump or blow to the head can be," Bytomski said in an AOA news release. "It might not seem that serious at the time because they didn't lose consciousness or bleed, but this could be a traumatic brain injury and needs to be evaluated by a medical professional."
Symptoms of concussion can include: pain in area of the head injury, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, confusion or inability to focus, and slurred or incoherent speech.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about concussions.