Concussion Recovery Time Debated

USA TODAY, August 2012 | Go to article overview

Concussion Recovery Time Debated


The widespread use of computerized neuropsychological tests (CNTs) in decisions regarding when athletes can return to play after suffering a concussion has been criticized by researchers in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. "Our knowledge of the effects of concussions continues to evolve," coauthor Thomas Redick points out. "We should continue to ask ourselves what the best practices are when dealing with a brain injury, which is what a concussion is."

The use of computer tests to measure an athlete's thinking ability before and after a concussion has become commonplace at all levels of contact sports, and the post-trauma test result is one part in determining when an athlete can get back in the game. The dangers of returning to play prematurely can be grave--including the rare cases that lead to a degeneration of brain tissue (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and even death. Yet, the ability to determine the severity of a head trauma and stage of recovery is very difficult.

"We should note that no 'gold standard' exists for concussion diagnosis and management," the researchers wrote. …

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