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AIS, AMA advise kids sit out 14 days after concussion

27 May 2016

National leaders in sport and medicine have united to address growing health concerns about concussion, launching a trusted one-stop online resource to support and protect Australia’s sporting participants – especially children.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Australian Medical Association (AMA) have established a joint Position Statement on Concussion in Sport and have launched – an Australian-Government funded website providing simple but specific advisory tools for athletes, parents, teachers, coaches and medical practitioners.

There has been about a 60 per cent rise in the number of people admitted to hospital for sport-related concussion over the past decade, but general knowledge about concussion management at a community sporting level in Australia is poor.

Children are particularly vulnerable to concussion because their brains are developing. After thoroughly considering the evidence, the AIS and AMA reached a joint recommendation – that children avoid full-contact training or sporting activity until at least 14 days after all symptoms of concussion have cleared.

Chief Medical Officer of the AIS, Dr David Hughes, said accurate rates of sport-related concussion are difficult to assess because the injury often goes unreported.

“Concussion in sport is a growing health concern and affects participants at all levels, from children through to elite athletes,” Dr Hughes said. “Based on international figures and Australia’s population, it’s estimated there would be as many as 100,000 sports-related concussions each year.”

The website provides toolkits, videos and the latest information for a quick response to concussion management. It provides a clear, contemporary and trusted platform that is quickly and easily accessible to all Australians.

Dr Hughes said it was important for Australians, particularly children, to engage in sporting activity for their physical and mental development. Dr Hughes said the concussion website was about increasing awareness of concussion symptoms so prompt treatment could be provided.

“The health benefits of being active and playing sport are substantial, particularly for children. Sports do a great job of modifying rules to attract younger participants and many also have their own protocols in place to deal with issues such as concussion.

“Our message about concussion is not about deterring people from playing contact sports, but giving them the tools and awareness to make every sporting environment as safe as possible.

“For subtle concussions it’s not necessarily the medical practitioner who first suspects a problem, but people who know the athlete well like teammates, parents, coaches, school teachers or friends.

“We all need to be vigilant when it comes to recognising the warning signs of concussion, especially in kids, and how to best manage them.

“Even for experienced medical practitioners, concussion can be difficult to diagnose and manage. There are no blood tests or medical imaging scans that can objectively diagnose concussion. The diagnosis requires a careful examination, assessing a range of clinical parameters.

“Any athlete with suspected concussion must be reviewed by a medical practitioner. No athlete with concussion should be permitted to return to sport.

“A simple piece of advice that applies to everyone is: “if in doubt, sit it out”.

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