Sports-Related Concussion: Assessment and Management

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Abstract

Most major U.S. professional sports and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have adopted concussion policies. Current National Football League and NCAA guidelines do not permit an athlete with a concussion to return to play on the same day as the injury. No adolescent or high-school athletes with a concussion should be allowed to return to play on the same day regardless of severity.

Loss of consciousness is uncommon with concussion.

Acute concussion symptoms are generally self-limited, and most symptoms typically resolve within two weeks. Concussion risk and severity may be affected by age, sex, and genetic predisposition.

Athletes with a concussion should rest physically and cognitively until symptoms have resolved at rest and with exertion. Rehabilitation following concussion progresses through a stepwise graded fashion.

Neuropsychological testing can provide objective data on an athlete after a concussion. However, it alone cannot be used to diagnose a concussion or determine when an athlete is allowed to return to play.

Retirement from contact or collision sports may be necessary for an athlete who has sustained multiple concussions or has a history of prolonged symptoms after concussions.

Long-term effects of concussions are still relatively unknown, and further research is required to offer guidance for athletes of all levels.

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