New guidelines issued for concussion injuries for athletes

Concussions, especially in sport-related situations, used to be looked at as minor and trivial. If you got up and brushed yourself off, the goal was to get back into the game as soon as possible. Most athletes, and certainly young teens, who are sensitive to the importance of maximizing playing time, could feel pressure to return to the field.

There is a growing body of research that indicates that concussions, while not all leading to traumatic brain injury, nonetheless, are not the minor, non-event, that many have been treated as over the years. The ABC news story discusses a girl playing soccer, who suffered three blows to the head within a few days, and ends up "disoriented and having memory lapses."

While the coaching staff did not suggest seeing a doctor, the girl eventually told her parents what she was feeling and they took her a doctor, where she was diagnosed with a concussion and told not to play for a few months.

New guidance would insist that after the first blow to the head, she would have been taken out of the game and not permitted to return until she had been examined by licensed health care professional trained in concussion.

The new guidelines, released by the American Academy of Neurology, are based on "a more individualized approach to concussion management." They also stress that athletes should be returned slowly to playing after the symptoms of the concussion have ceased.

It also should lead to differential treatment for younger athletes, and they should be given adequate time to recover, as research indicates it takes longer for their bodies to recover from the effect of a concussion.

Source: ABC News, "Experts: New Sports Concussion Rules a Game Changer," Liz Neporent, March 19, 2013

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