Concussion Awareness Now, a coalition of nearly 20 advocacy groups founded by Abbott and the Brain Injury Association of America, unveiled today a new public service campaign to draw attention to concussions and the importance of seeking care.
The majority of concussions happen during everyday activities – and more than half of people who suspect they have a concussion never get it checked, according to a recent coalition survey.
The new public service announcement campaign raises awareness both about the common ways concussions happen and the importance of getting them evaluated. Playing off the fact that people sometimes refer to their brain as their "melon," the campaign features a family of animated characters called the Melons, designed to connect with a wide audience by showcasing real-life situations where head injuries occur. Further, the spots encourage people to get their heads checked for a possible concussion, even if they are hesitant or feel pressure not to. The characters span three generations: grandparents, parents and children.
"Too often people think it's OK to walk off a possible concussion," said Dr. Beth McQuiston, neurologist and medical director in Abbott's diagnostics business. "But like a bruised melon, which can suffer unseen damage beneath the surface, a concussion is a serious injury that isn't always obvious to the naked eye. By driving awareness, we hope more people will seek care for possible concussions when they hit their head, because you can't treat what you don't know."
Each public service announcement features a Melon character hitting his or her head in a different way: slipping on a toy, texting and walking, tripping over the family pet during a virtual reality game, and playing pickleball. Each spot ends with the tagline, "Don't mess with your melon – if you hit it, get it checked." The campaign is launching across digital and social channels.
A survey of 3,000 people conducted by the coalition in November of 2022 highlighted many of the misconceptions about concussions. For example, even though only 3% of concussions that present to the emergency room are the result of sports injuries, 84% of respondents believed athletes are the most at risk for concussion. The leading cause of concussions is slips and falls.
"Most concussions happen to people participating in regular, everyday activities," said Rick Willis, president and chief executive officer of the Brain Injury Association of America. "In the brain injury community, we take concussions – and their after-effects – very seriously. But not everyone has the same understanding of what situations are most likely to cause concussions or what to do when they experience a hit or bump to the head or a full-body jolt. The Melons offer a unique way to spread awareness about concussions: if you think you or a loved one has sustained a concussion, it's imperative to get it checked."
Abbott and the Brain Injury Association of America launched the Concussion Awareness Now coalition in December. The coalition of advocacy groups has teamed up with acclaimed actress, comedian, writer and producer Rebel Wilson to raise awareness about the seriousness of concussions. Wilson has shared her personal concussion story as part of the coalition's campaign and will appear with the Melons in online content. Wilson suffered a concussion when she slipped on wet grass while walking to the set of a movie.
Concussion Awareness Now is made up of advocacy groups that represent people who have sustained brain injuries – from veterans, older adults and victims of domestic violence – their caregivers, as well as healthcare professionals such as emergency care physicians, physicians assistants, urgent care workers and athletic trainers. The coalition website, CheckYourMelon.com, features information about concussion, tips for seeking treatment, frequently asked questions, a patient question guide and other resources.