CLEVELAND CLINIC (ABC 4 News) - It's estimated that more than a million athletes experience a concussion each year in the United States. So, the American Academy of Neurology is releasing a new set of guidelines to evaluate players, which include pulling any player showing signs of a concussion.
Dr. Rick Figler treats concussion at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. "Sustaining another hit within the period of recovery can be detrimental and the period of recovery can be immediately after the first hit or until the symptoms completely resolved. But we know if the brain is allowed to heal appropriately at that time we think there is a better chance of it recovering faster and possibly better,” explained Dr. Figler.
The updated guidelines list football, rugby, hockey, and soccer as the sports with the greatest risk for concussion. They recommend immediately removing any athlete with suspected concussion from a game or practice and not allowing them to return until they're assessed by a licensed health care professional trained in concussion.
Dr. Figler said, "We think that protecting that younger brain is probably more important for the long-term."
The first 10 days after a concussion appear to be the period of greatest risk for being diagnosed with a concussion and high school or younger athletes should be managed more conservatively. Dr. Figler says parents and coaches need to work together and understand the guidelines are in place with their child's best interest in mind.
"There are a very small percentage of these children who will be going into the major leagues or the NFL or the NBA,” said Dr. Figler. “Be protective of their future, which is primarily going to be their brain function, right?”
The complete list of guidelines can be found in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.