It’s estimated that more than a million athletes experience a concussion each year in the United States.
The American Academy of Neurology now recommends pulling any player who shows signs of a concussion and keeping players off the field until they’re assessed by a licensed health care professional who’s trained in concussions.
Our own Emily Volz took some time to talk to ABC Medical Contributor, Dr. Richard Besser today about what these new guidelines mean for young athletes.
“You know this is really big news in terms of sports injuries. What the academy is saying, if you suspect someone is suffering a concussion, they need to sit it out. It used to be a lot of discussion on the sidelines, administration of different scales, but what they’re finding is that those scales can miss some people with concussions and even one concussion can have some consequences,” says Dr. Besser.
Getting a CAT Scan or an MRI is expensive and exposes kids to radiation in some cases, so how do you determine when a kid can get a scan?
“This is one of those areas where there can be so much improvement in care, when you have a child with a concussion, one of my son’s has had two concussions, and you really worry about what’s happened inside their head. Parents, I think, not in the best interest of their children, can push to have CAT Scans done when they’re not really needed,” adds Dr. Besser who goes on to say, “What they’re saying in these guidelines, regardless of age, should be evaluated by a medical professional. That professional can determine if they need to do a scan. You can’t see a concussion on a scan, what you’re looking for are any signs of a fracture to the skull or bleeding to the head.”
Dr. Besser says only about 10% of all concussion victims suffer loss of consciousness.
The goal of these new guidelines is to recognize children who may have a concussion, but may not be showing symptoms.