Concussion guidelines stir controversy

Do rules harm young athletes instead of helping them?

In the May issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, an international panel of neurologists said athletes aged 18 and younger who are suspected of sustaining a concussion during a game or practice should not be allowed back on the playing field the same day (this replaced guidelines stating that athletes could return if cleared by a doctor or certified trainer). Those guidelines are now stirring controversy, the New York Times reports, as brain injury experts suggest it may put young athletes at greater risk: some predict athletes will respond by hiding injuries from coaches and trainers, putting them at risk for a second, more dangerous concussion. “We know that an unacceptable number of kids are being sent back while symptomatic, and sometimes with devastating effects,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the guidelines’ authors. But Dr. Bob Sallis, a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, countered: “More kids will be hurt seriously because of this, either by players not admitting they might have gotten a concussion or coaches encouraging them not to be up front about their symptoms, whether subtly or overtly.” The panel’s recommendation won’t directly affect rules governing U.S. youth sports, which are made at state and local levels.

The New York Times

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