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Elizabeth Quinn

New Guidelines for Head Injury and Concussion in Youth Sports

By June 8, 2009

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An international panel of neurologists changed their recommendations regarding concussion care for young athletes. The new recommendations, published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, say any athlete, 18 and under, who may have sustained a concussion during sports should not be allowed to return to activity the same day. The group's previous recommendation allowed the athlete to return to activity if cleared by a doctor or certified athletic trainer. The neurologists now believe it's too difficult to make an immediate determination of the seriousness of head injuries which makes it too dangerous for continued play to be considered safe.

This change is stirring up debate among other experts. While many believe this will help prevent serious, life-threatening injuries in youth sports, some believe the new guideline will result in more kids hiding their head injury for fear of being pulls from the game.

How Common Are Head Injuries in High School Sports?

According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, in the 2007-8 school year, high school athletes reported an estimated 137,000 concussions. The researchers believe far more occurred and where either not recognized or not reported. The majority of reported conclusions occurred in these sports:

  1. Football - 70,000
  2. Girls soccer - 24,000
  3. Boys soccer - 17,000
  4. Girls basketball - 7,000
Research shows that even mild concussions and other head injuries can have serious long-term effects. One of the most serious results of a head injury is an epidural hematoma (bleeding between the skull and the brain). This type of injury most commonly occurs when an impact to the head results in a laceration of a blood vessel in the head that forms a blood clot between the skull and the brain's protective covering, called the dura. This clot slowly grows and puts pressure on the brain that, if not treated promptly, can result in death.

All experts agree that wear safely equipment, such as a helmet and mouth guard, can reduce the risk of serious head injuries.

Related Information


Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport: the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008. http://bjsm.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/43/Suppl_1/i76

June 12, 2009 at 10:18 am
(1) John says:

This is such an important issue. Thank you for drawing attention to it. Treatment should be extremely conservative because these injuries can be long-term and the risk increases with a second impact.

November 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm
(2) Michael says:

In the case of Cal running back Jahvid Best, he had two concussions in seven days. It appears that the guidelines were not followed, and he sustained a severe concussion when playing the next week. Cal spokesmen are trying to hide this fact. One example: stating that the games were eight days apart. I would not be surprised if they try to get him playing again. Jahvid Best needs to have his own physician, as do all the players on the Cal team. There should be an investigation of the coaches’/spokesmen’s misleading statments.

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