For the first time many years, there are new guidelines for treating concussions in this country.

In a breakthrough for brain injury treatment, this week, the American Academy of Neurology  (AAN) changed its guidelines on evaluating athletes who show signs of a concussion.

The AAN announced that guidelines for handling concussions would now emphasize treating athletes on a case-by-case basis — rather than according to a predetermined scale. New concussion guidelines

Millions of athletes sustain a sports-related traumatic brain injury each year in this country – and many seek no immediate medical treatment. The new guidelines stipulate that athletes with a suspected concussion should be removed from the game immediately and not return until a licensed health care professional allows them to play.

This new way of handling concussions is more in keeping with the way sports teams, associations and leagues treat currently handle concussions. “We’ve moved away from the concussion grading systems we first established in 1997 and are now recommending concussion and return to play be assessed in each athlete individually,” said Christopher C. Giza, a doctor at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at U.C.L.A. and one of the lead authors of the new guidelines. “There is no set timeline for safe return to play.” Individual treatment emphasized

The revised recommendations were announced at the AAN’s annual meeting in San Diego on Monday. AAN announcement

The authors of the study noted that the risk of concussion was greatest in football and rugby, followed by hockey and soccer, and that the risk of concussion for young women and girls was greatest in soccer and basketball.

The bottom line? “If in doubt, sit it out!”  According the AAN, that rule is the number one thing coaches and athletes need to remember. Public news article

As Jeffrey S. Kutcher, a doctor at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and a member of the academy aptly explained, “You only get one brain; treat it well.”

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