Athletic trainers' familiarity with and perceptions of academic accommodations in secondary school athletes after sport-related concussion

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Journal of Athletic Training


Context: Sport-related concussion can affect athletes' sport participation and academic success. With the recent emphasis on cognitive rest, student-athletes may benefit from academic accommodations (AA) in the classroom; however, athletic trainers' (ATs') perceived familiarity with, and use of, AA is unknown. Objective: To assess secondary school ATs' perceived familiarity with, attitudes and beliefs about, and incorporation of AA for student-athletes after sport-related concussion. A secondary purpose was to determine whether employment status altered familiarity and use of AA. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Online survey. Patients or Other Participants: Of 3286 possible respondents, 851 secondary school ATs accessed the survey (response rate = 25.9%; 308 men [36.2%], 376 women [44.2%], 167 respondents [19.6%] with sex information missing; age = 37.3 ± 10.1 years). Main Outcome Measure(s): Participants were solicited via e-mail to complete the Beliefs, Attitudes and Knowledge Following Pediatric Athlete Concussion among Athletic Trainers employed in the secondary school setting (BAKPAC-AT) survey. The BAKPAC-AT assessed ATs' perceived familiarity, perceptions, and roles regarding 504 plans, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and returning student-athletes to the classroom. Independent variables were employment status (full time versus part time), employment model (direct versus outreach), years certified, and years of experience in the secondary school setting. The dependent variables were participants' responses to the AA questions. Spearman rank-correlation coefficients were used to assess relationships and Mann-Whitney U and χ2tests (P < .05) were used to identify differences. Results: Respondents reported that approximately 41% of the student-athletes whose sport-related concussions they managed received AA. Respondents employed directly by the school were more familiar with 504 plans (P < .001) and IEPs (P < .001) and had a greater belief that ATs should have a role in AA. Both the number of years certified and the years of experience at the secondary school were significantly correlated with perceived familiarity regarding 504 plans and IEPs. Conclusions: The ATs employed directly by secondary schools and those with more experience as secondary school ATs were more familiar with AA. Understanding AA is important for all ATs because cognitive rest and "return to learn" are becoming more widely recommended in concussion management.

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