Know the Psychology of Concussions

By Harry Kerasidis, MD

The phrase, “get your head in the game,” has more relevance today than ever. Just about every sports team in the world is vying to learn proper concussion care and how to implement a protocol that not only meets new state laws, but has all the testing, and reporting necessary for medical personnel requests and purposes.

Still, the sports world must also consider the psychology of concussions. In my new book coming soon, “Concussionology: Redefining Sports Concussion Management For All Levels,” I address each of the following:

Sports culture — The most difficult challenge is breaking the culture that breeds “toughness” as the cost for success. Of course, sports are excellent teachers of toughness. But when it comes to concussions, we have to prioritize the individual’s brain health over wins and losses. There is no short-term fix, but the more education and awareness, the better.

Faking baseline scores — A common strategy among athletes is to “tank” or “fake” the baseline tests so they skew lower. That way, if they need to re-take the test due to a suspected concussion, the scores will appear to be normal. However, with a balance test, like XLNTbrain Mobile App, it does not behoove the athlete to try to fake bad balance.

Risk compensation — Suiting up in full-body armor, or pads, can effectively make the athlete feel less vulnerable to injury, even “weaponized” to carry out massive collisions. It’s important to understand the purpose of wearing safety equipment is to protect and prevent injury, and they are not tools that enable harder hitting and greater risk-taking.

Gender differences — Physically, women may be more vulnerable to concussion, but there are other gender differences that complicate concussion care. In my own research, we found female collegiate athletes were more likely to disclose “symptoms” related to concussion more readily than men. Knowing how the genders vary is important for medical personnel, and attending athletic training staff to know.

In my neurology practice, I’ve implemented a sports concussion system, XLNTbrain Sport™ that helps me conduct each of the elements of a clinical-caliber concussion management program. With this software, and through my practice, I’ve treated thousands of concussions. Now, this program is available for the public and medical sectors to implement.

XLNTbrain Sport™ includes:

  • Video education that requires taking a quiz to acknowledge understanding
  • Neuro-cognitive baseline testing that includes an emotional reactivity component
  • Balance testing included at baseline through post-injury recovery
  • Smartphone mobile sideline assessment app Return-to-play recovery protocol
  • Automated reporting to parents, and designated medical personnel

XLNTbrain Sport™ provides online and mobile concussion management protocols incorporating many of the best-practices and standards established by several industry organizations including the guidelines set by the National Athletic Trainers Association and American Academy of Neurology. XLNTbrain is a proud sponsor of MomsTEAM Institute and SmartTeams™. Schedule a demonstration or obtain more information by calling (703) 675-1857 or emailing