CHICAGO — With growing concerns about the negative health effects of sports-related concussions in recent years, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to adopt policies aimed at reducing the risk of concussions in young athletes. The new policy addresses the need for prompt diagnosis and appropriate concussion management plans in treating sports-related concussions.

The AMA’s newly adopted policy supports requiring youth athletes who are suspected of having sustained a concussion to be removed immediately from the activity and allowed only to return with a physician’s written consent. The new policy also encourages the adoption of evidence-based, age-specific guidelines for physicians, other health care professionals and athletic organizations to use in evaluating and managing concussion in all athletes as well as the development and evaluation of effective risk reduction measures to prevent or reduce sports-related injuries and concussions.

“It is essential that athletes know how crucial it is to notify their coach, trainer, physician or parent if they’ve sustained any type of head injury because even mild cases of traumatic brain injury may have serious and prolonged consequences,” said AMA Board Member Jack Resneck Jr., M.D. “By raising awareness of the serious risks associated with concussions and ensuring that the appropriate guidelines are in place, we can reduce the number of young athletes who may return to the game too soon, which can put their health at further risk.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and other head injuries, occur in the U.S. every year. A recent study shows that 59 percent of middle school female soccer players reported playing with concussion symptoms, with less than half having been evaluated by a physician or other qualified health professional. A study of high school athletes with concussions also found that 15 percent returned to play prematurely, and nearly 16 percent of football players who sustained a concussion that resulted in loss-of-consciousness returned to play in less than one day.

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

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