Ann Arbor, Mich.-- Athletes who take a serious blow to the head on the field, court or ice should see a doctor immediately and leave the game for the day if they lose consciousness or have persistent or delayed symptoms, according to new concussion guidelines based on the latest scientific research and endorsed by six major medical organizations.
If their symptoms last more than 15 minutes, the guidelines say, athletes need to be monitored for up to a week and return to competition gradually based on tolerance of increasing physical demands. If their symptoms worsen, they should head straight for the emergency room.
The new recommendations give doctors and coaches a cautious, science-based consensus standard for dealing with one of the most common sports injuries. They are published in the current issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine by a team led by Edward Wojtys, M.D., professor of surgery in the University of Michigan Health System.
"Just because an athlete says he or she 'feels fine' doesn't mean he or she should get right back in the game. Concussion has already cut short too many professional athletic careers, and left too many amateurs with lasting problems," says Wojtys, an orthopaedic surgeon and associate team physician for the U-M Athletics Department. "As we discover more about brain function, science and sport must come together to protect athletes using the most current information."
The guidelines endorse the use of neuropsychological testing on the sidelines as part of the physical exam. They stress that a full examination by a physician usually can best judge the effects of concussion.
Above all, the authors state, only more research will answer questions about how
quickly and how well the brain can recover from concussion, and how best to
evaluate and treat injured athletes. From junior high and high school squads to
college and professional teams, they recommend large-scale studies of brain
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System