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New Guidelines Raise Safety Bar on Concussions
Date:3/18/2013

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Any athlete who suffers a suspected concussion should be withdrawn from play and stay on the sidelines until a qualified health care professional determines that all symptoms have subsided and it is safe to return to the field, new guidelines state.

Issued by the American Academy of Neurology, the latest recommendations aim to keep young athletes as safe as possible.

"With the older guidelines, we were trying to rate concussions at the time of the injury and predict recovery times, but now we know, 'When in doubt, sit 'em out,'" said guideline co-author Dr. Christopher Giza, an associate professor of pediatric neurology and neurosurgery with the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Mattel Children's Hospital.

"The point is that no single quick test is really a litmus test for a concussion," he said. "We know now that we need to make sure a player has had a thorough and proper evaluation, involving a symptoms checklist, a standardized assessment and balance and cognitive testing, before being returned to play. This evaluation has to be done on a case-by-case basis, so each person goes through an individualized recovery process."

Giza and his colleagues reported the new guidelines in the March 18 online issue of the journal Neurology.

According to the academy, upwards of 1 million professional and amateur U.S. athletes suffer a concussion every year.

The new guidelines were issued following a thorough look at all the available concussion research through June 2012.

Among the conclusions: experiencing a concussion raises the risk for experiencing a second, and perhaps more debilitating, one. That risk was found to be highest in the 10 days following the initial injury.

One expert said the new guidelines are needed.

"One of the big problems is that we have a cu
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