Panel issues new concussion-care guidelines"New detection, treatment and retirement are important advances,” says UW Medicine co-author Stan Herring.
Changes in the approach to sports concussions are highlighted in the new Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sports, the work of more than 100 researchers and head-injury specialists from around the world. Published June 14 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the document updates guidelines last issued in 2017.
“Our work has produced several new papers that will improve the diagnosis and management of sports concussions,” said Dr. Stanley Herring, a sports medicine specialist at UW Medicine who was a member of the group. "These works are an important advancement in sports medicine and will help keep athletes active and safe."
Herring met with the group in Amsterdam to ensure the new guidelines align with concussion research findings published in the past several years. At the University of Washington School of Medicine, Herring is a clinical professor of rehabilitation medicine, orthopedics and sports medicine, and neurological surgery. He holds the Zackery Lystedt Sports Concussion Endowed Chair.
Recommendations in the new statement include new, age-appropriate tools to identify and treat concussion, and strategies for returning school-age athletes to education and activity after a concussion. The guidelines also call for a new, targeted approach to rehabilitation of these injuries.
“Updates and additions range from refining the definition of sports concussion to sports specific prevention strategies and better tools for assessing potential concussions on the field and in the office,” Herring said. “The role of early activity after sports concussion is covered as well as a discussion on potential long-term consequences of these injuries. A new area covered is the decision-making process about when an athlete should consider retirement from collision or contact sports.”
Herring said retirement decisions are often challenging because of a lack of high-quality evidence that unequivocally dictates the terms for retirement.
“The paper discusses the complex and multifaceted nature of these decisions, and the value of obtaining opinions by brain injury experts as well as including the athlete’s input via a shared decision-making process,” Herring said. “Also, given the positive effects of exercise, if retirement from contact or collision sport is recommended, that recommendation should be coupled with redirection advice to continue regular noncontact or low-level contact physical activity.”
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