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New national guideline proposed for sports concussions

A national guideline that young athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in practice or games be removed from competition until examined or cleared by a medical professional is at the heart of a multi-organizational call-to-action announced today at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 56th Annual Meeting in Seattle. ACSM is collaborating with the Brain Injury Association of Washington (BIAWA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to build national momentum on a new Washington state law protecting young athletes from death or disability caused by premature return to play following a concussion.

The Lystedt Law is named in honor of Zackery Lystedt, a Seattle-area young athlete who suffered a concussion in 2006 during a middle school football game. After returning to the same game, he later collapsed on the field.  The legislation, according to ACSM and its partners, is the standard for a no-cost, highly protective model for national duplication.

In order to replicate the characteristics of the Lystedt Law that will protect young athletes in sports, ACSM says state legislation can work to require:

- School districts to work with their state athletic associations to develop guidelines and informational forms to educate coaches, youth athletes and their parents of the nature and risk of concussion and head injury.

- Information handouts to parents and players on the signs and symptoms of concussion; returned and signed by parents and youth athletes acknowledging the risk of concussion and head injuries prior to practice or competition.

- Removal of a youth athlete who is suspected of or sustains a concussion or head injury from play. "When in doubt, sit them out"

- Written clearance prior to returning to play from a licensed health care provider for a youth athlete who has been removed from play.

- Compliance from private, nonprofit youth sports associations with the policies adopted in that state.

ACSM has a long history of advocating for concussion management, as well as establishing resources and partnerships to support treatment and prevention updates that help coaches and athletes avoid head injuries during play or competition.

In 2006, ACSM published Concussion (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) and the Team Physician: A Consensus Statement, a guide to help team physicians diagnose and treat athletes with a concussion. The primer outlines best practices in identifying a mild traumatic brain injury; factors that should be considered in making return-to-play (RTP) decisions; the need for a game-day medical plan specific to concussions; the need for documentation, and more.

For more information on the Lystedt Law in Washington state, visit the brain injury association of washington web site

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