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Concussion guideline for athletes updated

Evidence pointing to the long-term effects of concussions has resulted in more attention being paid to athletes, especially younger middle school and high school athletes. In an effort to try and reduce the long-lasting effects of concussions, the American Academy of Neurology just updated its guideline for the first time since 1997. These new guideline will replace the outdated ones put together 16 years ago.

Among the guideline, information related to those most at risk is included. Overall, those playing football and rugby have the highest risk of concussion, while female athletes playing soccer and basketball run the highest concussion risks. Those who have a history of one or more concussions are also more likely to end up being diagnosed with yet another one.

Additionally, younger athletes with concussions take a longer time to recover, which is why it is especially important they receive the treatment necessary following a hit to the head.

However, out of all of the guideline, the No. 1 most important change is the recommendation for athletes to be taken out of a game as soon as it is suspected they have suffered from a concussion. Before returning to play, the athlete should also be checked out and assessed by a licensed health care professional who is trained in concussion-related incidents. Once all symptoms associated with the concussion have disappeared, then and only then should the athlete return to the game.

Looking to the future, the hope is that these types of guidelines will encourage coaches to take concussions more seriously. This in turn could result in athletes receiving proper and prompt medical treatment to hopefully reduce the chance of further complications.

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

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