HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness has released the nation’s first pediatric-specific guidelines for the treatment of sports-related concussions. Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of CHKD’s Sports Medicine Program, and incoming chair of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, participated in the development of the guidelines.
“Sport-Related Concussion in Children and Adolescents” in the AAP’s September 2010 issue of Pediatrics reviews the medical literature demonstrating the dangers of concussions to young athletes and recommends new measures to protect them, including removing players with concussion symptoms from play until they receive medical clearance.
The following recommendations from the AAP are based on the report by the AAP council on sports medicine and fitness felt that it was important to create pediatric-specific guidelines for sports-related concussions,” said Dr. Brenner. “The existing guidelines were general, for athletes of all ages, but young athletes are different —and more susceptible to serious complications of concussions —- because their brains are still developing.” One of the most serious risks for young athletes is second impact syndrome, which occurs when a child suffers a second concussion before an earlier concussion has fully healed. “Second impact syndrome can result in permanent brain damage or even death,” said Dr. Brenner.
Although preventing all concussions is unlikely, there are several ways to reduce the risk. These include adhering to the rules of the sport, identifying athletes at risk and educating parents, teachers, athletes, school administrators and health care professionals about the dangers of concussions.
Football has the highest incidence of concussion, but girls have higher concussion rates than boys in similar sports. The following recommendations from the AAP are based on the report by the AAP council on sports medicine and fitness of which Dr. Brenner was one of the authors.
- Children or adolescents who sustain a concussion should not return to play until they receive medical clearance from a health care professional with experience in concussion management in young athletes.
- Pediatric and adolescent athletes should not be returned to play on the same day of the concussion, even if they become asymptomatic.
- After a concussion, all athletes should be restricted from physical activity and mental exertion until they are asymptomatic. Schools should work with the students to modify workloads to promote a quicker recovery and avoid exacerbation of their symptoms.
- Neuropsychological testing is just one tool in the complete management of a sport-related concussion.
- CT or MRI is generally normal with a concussion.
- Retirement from contact sports may be necessary for an athlete who has sustained multiple concussions, or who has suffered from prolonged post-concussive symptoms.
To learn more about concussions in young athletes, concussion care at CHKD’s Sports Medicine program or to see an interview with Dr. Brenner on the topic, please visit www.chkd.org.
Contact: Contact: Greg Raver-Lampman (757) 668-7554 Greg.Lampman@chkd.org