American Medical News
Posted Aug. 19, 2013
Schools across the nation soon will be back in session, and that means scores of students will be playing football and other sports. Unfortunately, some of them will get injured. Physicians increasingly are diagnosing concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. In an effort to increase awareness about such injuries, health experts encourage doctors to talk with young athletes and their parents during sports physicals about the causes and symptoms of concussions.
American Medical News has covered the role that the medical community plays in identifying and treating concussions. Articles have examined the legal risks to doctors whose patients get sports-related head injuries and the role of physicians in allowing athletes to return to play after being diagnosed with a concussion.
A report released in July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said efforts to improve prevention and early treatment of traumatic brain injuries have not done enough to reduce these injuries. The agency called for improving surveillance systems that report national and state TBI data. Making that and other changes would help researchers and others better understand the long-term effects of brain injuries.
Former players of the National Football League sued, claiming the league did not warn them about the risks of concussions or impose safety measures to protect them. Physicians are expected to play a role in the litigation as questions are asked about what health professionals historically have known about concussions and what they have done to address the problem. One expert said the case places a heavier legal burden on doctors to recognize concussions in patients.
Pro and college sports have taken steps in recent years to protect athletes from head injuries. Policies have been adopted that require a physician’s permission before a concussed player can return to the field. Despite the regulations, team doctors sometimes face demands from coaches and the athletes themselves to get the injured player back on the field, posing a dilemma for doctors whose first commitment is to their patient.