New Sports Concussion Guidelines Released

Immediate treatment for suspected concussions is recommended

injured player on sidelines

As worry grows over the permanent effects of concussions athletes incur while playing team sports, a new set of sports concussion guidelines has been released.

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The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has released a new set of guidelines to evaluate players suspected of having a concussion.

Player should be pulled immediately

The guidelines recommend immediately removing from a game or practice any player showing signs of concussion and not permitting the athlete to return until being assessed by a licensed health care professional trained in concussion.

Do not allow an athlete to return until he or she has been evaluated by a doctor trained in concussion.

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The AAN guidelines say the following sports have the greatest risk of concussion:

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Hockey
  • Soccer

Taking more time to recover

Cleveland Clinic sports health physician Rick Figler, MD, says recovery time is critical in dealing with a concussion.

Taking another hit within the period of recovery can hurt the brain’s ability to heal, says Dr. Figler. This period of recovery can range from immediately after the first hit or until the symptoms are completely resolved.

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“We know that if the brain is allowed to heal appropriately at that time we think there’s a better chance of it recovering faster and possibly better,” he says.

Special care for younger athletes

High school and younger athletes need to be managed more conservatively, says Dr. Figler. Parents and coaches should work together and understand that the guidelines are there with the kids’ best interest in mind.

“Only a very small percentage of these children will be going into the major leagues, the NFL or the NBA,” says Dr. Figler. “We have to be protective of their future — which is primarily going to be their brain function.”

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