Share This Page

Concussion guidelines game-changer for athletes

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 6:18 p.m.

Concussion research has yet to turn up therapies that can diminish the consequences of a mild traumatic brain injury or shorten the duration of its symptoms, the nation's leading group of neurologists concluded.

But in athletics, there is one step that can avert lengthening symptoms or exacerbating damage from a blow to the head, the American Academy of Neurology wrote: Take the athlete out of the game or off the practice field when a concussion is suspected, and delay his or her return to play until the all-clear has been issued by a trainer or physician skilled in diagnosing and treating brain injury.

In guidelines issued by the academy, coaches and sideline trainers are urged to be particularly conservative in applying those rules to younger athletes, those who've had past concussions, those who practice fewer than three hours a week and those who play in a game, such as hockey, in which body-checking is routine.

The new set of guidelines is the first update to the medical specialists' recommendations since 1997. It underscores the value of putting athletes through a battery of cognitive tests before they begin participating in a sport.

The neurologists concluded that those “baseline assessments,” which are increasingly required among high school and college-level athletic programs, give physicians, coaches and athletic trainers a firmer footing on which to decide when a concussed athlete has regained his or her pre-injury cognitive function and can safely return to play.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.