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New guideline addresses sport-related concussions

Athletes and medical professionals in Wisconsin and elsewhere will benefit from becoming familiar with new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Neurology that provide an updated set of recommendations concerning concussions. These guidelines offer guidance to athletes and their health care professionals concerning the diagnosis and management of concussions in order to minimize risk of further brain injuries.

Former recommendations for athletes returning to play have been replaced by a new one that urges physicians to customize timetables for each individual. Suspicion of concussion still requires immediate removal from play pending professional evaluation. Multi-disciplinary findings are listed to assist physicians in making sound recommendations, including risk factors for concussion and more serious impairment, relative benefits of protective gear, clinical diagnostic tools and symptom checklists that are important for establishing a recovery period.

According to one member of the AAN, the most important takeaway for athletes is "if in doubt, sit it out." A number of symptoms provide warning of concussion and potential for further injury, including increased sensitivity to sound and light, headaches, problems with coordination and balance and cognitive changes. One of the best known symptoms, the "blackout," is listed as an important sign, yet 90 percent of concussions do not exhibit loss of consciousness.

Professional athletes aren't the only ones at risk of serious head injury, and the updated guidelines reflect recent findings that one brain injury significantly increases the risk for future ones. In time, such injuries can lead to increasing medical expenses, therapy and rehabilitation and permanent disability. If negligence on the part of program directors or medical professionals is suspected as a primary cause for an individual's traumatic brain injury, a personal injury attorney may be able to assist him or her in obtaining compensation.

Source: MedicalXpress, "American Academy of Neurology issues updated sports concussion guideline," March 18, 2013

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