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New concussion treatment guidelines issued for athletes

Detroit area parents who have children who play contact sports may have experienced concussion scares. Signs of concussions include headaches, sensitivities to light or sound, difficulties balancing and coordinating and a loss of consciousness, among other symptoms. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, generally caused by a blow to the head. Concussions can lead to significant problems and as such it is important to seek medical attention when one suffers a concussion.

This week, new sports concussion guidelines were published by the American Academy of Neurology. The new guidelines pertain to evaluating and treating athletes who sustain concussions, and they replace the existing guidelines that were published in 1997.

One of the most imperative guidelines that the AAN released states that any athlete who may have experienced a concussion must be removed from the game immediately. They should not return to play until a health care professional assesses them and all symptoms are gone.

The AAN says that younger athletes, specifically those of high school age and younger, often take longer to recover than adult athletes.

Because sustaining concussions can result in long-lasting injuries and disabilities, those who play sports of any kind should take these recommendations seriously. According to the AAN, concussions are most common in football and rugby. Women and girls are most likely to suffer concussions when playing basketball or soccer.

Although people often associate blacking out, or losing consciousness, with a concussion, this actually only happens in very few cases. Those who hit their heads should worry about a concussion if they experience changes in judgment, memory, speech, reaction time, balance, coordination or sleep; and/or if they have a headache or are sensitive to sound and light as mentioned above. These symptoms might occur right away, or not until days later.

Those who are unsure of whether they have sustained a concussion should err on the side of caution and see a doctor, according to the AAN. Head injuries can result in significant medical expenses, but in many cases it is possible to recover such compensation. Personal injury attorneys can help brain injury victims and their families learn whether it is possible to hold a negligent party accountable and obtain compensation.

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

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