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New Concussion Study

About one in 10 local high school athletes in contact sports will sustain a concussion while engaged in sporting activities.  Unfortunately, many individuals responsible for the safety and health of athletes including coaches, medical personnel and parents do not know how serious the effects of a seemingly mild concussion can be. That lack of awareness may result in allowing an athlete to return to play too soon following initial injury, placing him or her in danger of further, more serious injury, according to doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

A new study is now taking place at the University of North Carolina evaluating the long term effects of concussions in football players.  This study is unique because the player's helmets are wired enabling investigators to determine the bio mechanical forces involved in the impact causing a concussion.  Hopefully this study will provide important information on the rotational forces involved in producing concussions.  Kevin Guskiewicz, [email protected] the lead researcher is the Director of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and has authored numerous articles on concussions in athletes. The results of the study are expected to be published in 2006.

The American Academy of Neurology has set forth a practice parameter for making return to play decisions. Although caution should be used in folowing these recommendations since they are in the process of being revised.  The National Association of Athletic Trainers has also published updated recommendations on evaluating student athletes for concussion and brain injury.  Click here for further studies and fact sheets on evaluating concussions in athletes.

I am pleased that in December 2004, I was the Chairperson of a symposium  sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of New York State, "Heading for the Future: Managing Sports Injury and Concussion at Madison Square Garden where the important issues surrounding concussions in sports was discussed by a national panel of experts.  Concussion recognition, sideline evaluation,  management, return to play decisions and the effects of successive concussions is receiving increasing attention by the medical community. No one who is involved in sporting activities can afford to ignore this important issue.  Parents, coaches, athletes, trainers and team physicians all need to pay attention to the important long term consequences of concussions.

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