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

lture within many sports that still encourages young people to play through the pain, including head pain," said Dr. Gail Rosseau, a clinical assistant professor in the department of neurosurgery at the Northshore University Health System in Chicago.

"But one of the most important things we now know is that until those who have had one concussion are fully recovered they are more likely to have a second concussion," Rosseau said. "The stories we hear that are horrific to every parent and every coach is the child who gets a concussion and goes back to play too soon, and gets a second one with devastating consequences."

Just how devastating it can be was outlined earlier this year in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, which detailed the harrowing double-concussion experience of Indiana high school student Cody Lehe. Resuming football too soon after an initial concussion, Lehe suffered a second concussion. Severe brain injury ensued, leaving Lehe mentally impaired and largely wheelchair-bound.

"When athletes are sent back to play with a concussion, it's because they didn't know they had one or people recognized it but didn't do anything about it," Giza said. "We have to educate trainers, physicians and players so no athlete comes back too quickly or arbitrarily."

To that end, the new guidelines call for trained health professionals to quickly and methodically look for any of the telltale signs of a concussion, including: a headache; light and sound sensitivity; poor balance, coordination and reaction time; speech, sleep or memory disturbances; and, less commonly, a loss of consciousness.

Alongside such symptoms, a custom-tailored recovery plan should take into account a patient's prior concussion history and his or her age. The guideline authors emphasized that younger patients typically need longer recovery periods, and cautioned caregivers to handle patients of high school age and below more conservatively in terms of allowi
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