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Concussion Awareness for Young Athletes Gets Big Play
Date:2/5/2010

Head injuries focus of new laws, online testing and Super Bowl plug

FRIDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Efforts to improve treatment of concussions in youth sports are making headway on several fronts: Washington state's new laws governing head injuries in scholastic sports will get big play Sunday at Super Bowl XLIV, and Texas researchers report that an online test can help athletic trainers and doctors determine when it's safe for an athlete to return to the field after a concussion.

"Players often return to the field before they should, thinking they just got their 'bell rung' and that everything will be fine," Dr. Damond Blueitt, a primary care and sports medicine physician at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, said in a news release.

But concussions, which Blueitt calls "mild traumatic brain injury," can be severe, causing confusion, amnesia and other problems. In rare cases, concussions can be fatal.

The researchers report that more than 15,000 North Texas athletes from 83 local schools and clubs have undergone baseline online evaluation since 2008 through the Concussion Management Program at Texas Health Sports Medicine.

The idea is to see how their brains work under normal circumstances; the athletes can take the test again if they have suffered a concussion. About one in 30 have done so, the researchers noted.

The tests provide guidance as to when athletes can begin playing again. Before that time, they're advised to take it easy. "We recommend a period of total rest, not just from sports, but from classes, studying, video games, even text messaging," Ken Locker, a certified athletic trainer at Texas Health Sports Medicine, said in the news release.

An estimated half of all high school football players suffer a concussion during each season. About one-third report having more than one in a season, meaning they're at higher risk of long-lasting brain damage
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