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New Guidelines for Athletes With Concussions to be Returned to Play

The American Academy of Neurology recently released new guidelines, consistent with the law in many states, including the District of Columbia, which require an athlete suspected of having sustained a concussion to be removed from practice or play, and not returned until the symptoms are gone and they are evaluated by a medical expert trained in the management and treatment of concussions. The new guidelines replace the outdated method from 1997 of grading concussion severity on a scale of one to three, and permitting an athlete to return to practice or play on the same day as having suffered a concussion.

The new guidelines reflect an understanding that a premature return to play can have serious long term consequences on the athlete's well-being, and that individualized assessment of an athlete's condition is important.. The guidelines note that high school and younger athletes take longer to heal and should be managed more conservatively than their college aged counterparts.

Partner Joseph Cammarata , who is President of the Brain Injury Association of D.C., drafted legislation which became the law in the District of Columbia known as the "Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011", with protections for youth athletes similar to those adopted by the American Academy of Neurology.