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Sports Concussions: New Guidelines Issued

Take All Head Injuries Seriously, Monitor Closely for Delayed Reactions

4. Referral to a Doctor

  • On the day of injury, an athlete with a concussion should be referred to a doctor if he or she lost consciousness or experienced amnesia lasting longer than 15 minutes.
  • A team approach should be used in making return-to-play decisions after concussion. This approach should involve input from the athletic trainer, physician, athlete, and others involved.

5. Disqualifying Athletes

  • Athletes who have symptoms of injury -- both at rest and after exertion for at least 20 minutes -- should be disqualified from returning to participate in a sport on the day of the injury.
  • Athletes who lose consciousness or have amnesia should be disqualified from playing on the day of injury.
  • Athletes with a history of three or more concussions and experiencing slowed recovery, temporary or permanent disqualification from contact sports may be indicted.

6. Special Considerations for Young Athletes

  • Because damage to the maturing brain of a young athlete can be catastrophic, even greater caution should be used with athletes under age 18.
  • An athlete with a concussion should be instructed to avoid taking medications, unless it's acetaminophen or other drugs that are prescribed by a doctor.
  • Any athlete with a concussion should be instructed to rest, but complete bed rest is not recommended. The athlete should resume normal activities of daily living as he or she is able, while avoiding activities that could make symptoms worse.
  • The athletic trainer should enforce the standard use of helmets for protecting against catastrophic head injuries and reducing the severity of concussions.
  • The athletic trainer should enforce the standard use of mouth guards for protection against dental injuries -- even though there is no scientific evidence that they will reduce concussion injuries.

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