Amnesia, confusion may signal concussion

SAN DIEGO, July 22 -- Loss of consciousness may not be the main indicator of a concussion, according to new research released today at the 29th Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

"Athletes may sustain a severe concussion without losing consciousness," says lead author Mark R. Lovell, Ph.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion program. "Amnesia and confusion on the field after injury may be as important, if not more important, in making a return-to-play decision."

More than 300,000 sports-related concussions occur annually in the United States with at least 62,000 resulting form high school contact sports. Approximately 34 percent of college football players have one concussion and 20 percent have multiple concussions. Contact sports have a 19 percent annualized risk of concussion.

Dr. Lovell's study appears in the July issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine. He and colleagues James P. Bradley, M.D., Michael W. Collins, Ph.D., and Charles J. Burke, M.D., from the department of orthopaedic surgery at UPMC, evaluated 181 high school and college athletes with sports-related concussions to analyze the role of loss of consciousness in predicting neurocognitive recovery. Of the athletes studied, 30 had documented loss of consciousness and 151 had no documented loss of consciousness.

"We recommend that anyone who is thought to have had a concussion not be put back into athletic contest until he or she has been thoroughly evaluated by a physician and undergone neuropsychological testing. This is especially important with athletes 18 years of age and younger because their brains are still developing," concludes Dr. Lovell.

Concussion grading systems recently have come under scrutiny because of the lack of evidence-based support. Grading scales assign a number based on suspected concussion severity. In the grading systems, loss

Contact: Susan Manko
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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