David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
Neurologists recommend stricter concussion guidelines
One risk factor is presence of gene that often leads to Alzheimer's disease
The American Academy of Neurology, meeting today (March 18) in San Diego, issued new guidelines for dealing with athletes' concussions. More than one million athletes experience a concussion each year in the United States; the risks are greatest in football and rugby, said the academy. The neurologists recommended that athletes with suspected concussions be immediately removed from a game and not be permitted to return until assessed by a health care professional trained in concussion. If adopted by schools, this could have a profound effect on the sport.
Among other findings: an athlete with a history of one or more concussions is more susceptible to being diagnosed with another; the first ten days after a concussion represent the greatest risk period for getting another; there is no clear evidence that one type of football helmet is better than another in protecting against concussion, and longer exposure to a sport is a big risk factor.
The academy also says that the existence of the ApoE4 gene is a risk factor. This is the gene that makes people three to eight times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.