Academy calls for increased concussion safety

The American Academy of Neurology is calling for more baseline testing, improved education and mandatory reporting related to concussions.
“A concussion is, in the most simple terms, a brain injury usually caused by trauma which leads to a metabolic injury in the brain – the brain is now trying to heal itself,” said Dr. Jonathan Phillips, head of the concussion center at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. 
He supports the American Academy of Neurology's new position paper on concussions.
“They're very important recommendations because they deal not only with the health of the athlete,” he said, “but also the education of the whole medical team needed to treat the athlete as well.”
The recommendations include a call for more baseline computer testing, which Phillips is already doing with high school athletes in Pasco County.
The test measures memory, reaction times and function.  
“We try and get all of our athletes tested with base line testing initially so there is some objective data that we can work off of if an injury were to occur,” Phillips said. 
Andres Perez, the head football coach at Steinbrenner High school, said his coaches all go through concussion training. But their partnership with USF, he said, is what's really helping.
“We have an athletic trainer that comes and does the baseline testing we've talked about,” the coach said. “She has information on every single kid.”
In Florida there is a return to play requirement that takes about six months.
The child’s first step is to rest until he or she is symptom free.
Then the student athlete will go through a series of tests that gets harder each time. And the child has to remain symptom free. Finally, the child has to go back to the doctor and be cleared for play.  
Other recommendations from the report released Wednesday include educating parents and their families about the signs of a concussion and even developing a national concussion registry with mandatory reporting.
If your school doesn't offer baseline testing, Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel does and some insurance companies cover the testing.
For more information, you can reach Dr. Jonathan Phillips at 813-929-5350.
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