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If you’re a team physician, you have new guidelines to help you
e-Reports, December 27, 2010
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If you serve as a team physician in your community, the ISMA Commission on Sports Medicine wants you to know about the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s (IHSAA) new protocol regarding concussions.

The guidelines call for immediate removal from play of any athlete exhibiting signs of concussion – until cleared by an appropriate health care professional.

Stephen Simons, M.D.
Stephen Simons, M.D.

“It’s good to actually have these rules written down in concrete form,” said Stephen Simons, M.D., chair of the ISMA Commission on Sports Medicine and director of Sports Medicine at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend. “Without them, athletes, parents and coaches are at liberty to make decisions about further play, but a medical decision by a health care professional is in the athlete’s best long-term interest.”

Developed by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the guidelines are available on the ISMA website.

“As team physicians, it’s helpful for us to be present, observe what happens to a player and be vigilant about signs and symptoms of concussion,” noted Dr. Simons, who serves as team physician for several high schools. He explained that often athletes downplay or fail to disclose the severity of an injury to avoid being pulled out of the line-up for upcoming games or events. “We need to be aware of this behavior,” Dr. Simons cautioned.

National attention

State legislation may support the effort

Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Wells County, advised the ISMA he will file a bill in the General Assembly modeled after legislation signed last year by the governor of Washington. Read upcoming issues of Legislative News to learn details and follow the bill’s progress.

Following some high profile injuries, the topic of concussion in sports was on the agenda at the AMA Interim meeting in November. Delegates also adopted a policy that essentially says players suspected of suffering a concussion should obtain written approval from a physician before returning to their sport.

“If you have an individual who can’t remember what quarter it is, that’s a concussion,” ISMA Past President David Welsh, M.D., told American Medical News at the AMA meeting (See the story here). An AMA alternate delegate, Dr. Welsh was interviewed after testifying on the issue before the AMA House of Delegates.

“What I don’t want to see is someone have a concussion that’s missed, and the next one is the bad one,” added Dr. Welsh, a team doctor for Batesville High School.

In October, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) issued a statement that supported the IHSAA and AMA positions. Physicians nationwide have grown concerned by research indicating concussions account for 10 percent of all high school sports injuries, and 40 percent of high school players return to the game too quickly.*

Find the AAN policy and recommendations on the AAN website.

*Source: Center for Injury Research and Policy

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