Athletes with a suspected concussion should be immediately pulled from play and not allowed to return until assessed by a licensed health-care professional, according to new guidelines issued Monday by the American Academy of Neurology.
The release of the updated national guidelines comes a month before a new law goes into effect in Ohio requiring similar precautions for all youth athletes with potential concussions. The state law also requires enhanced training about head injuries for coaches, officials and referees.
The academy’s new guidelines recommend return to play slowly and only after all symptoms are gone.
“There is no set timeline for safe return to play,” co-lead guideline author Dr. Christopher C. Giza, an academy member from the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, said in a news release.
According to the new guidelines:
• The risk of concussion is greatest in football and rugby, followed by hockey and soccer.
• Athletes with a history of concussion are at greater risk for being diagnosed with another head injury.
• Patients are at the greatest risk for suffering a second concussion in the first 10 days after an initial concussion.
• No clear evidence exists that one type of football helmet protects better against concussion; all helmets need to be properly fit and maintained.
• Licensed health-care providers trained in treating concussion should watch for ongoing symptoms, a history of previous concussion and younger age of athletes — all factors linked to a longer recovery period.
Nurses union affiliates
The Ohio Nurses Association last week approved an affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a union of professionals within the AFL-CIO.
The Ohio Nurses Association has more than 8,900 members, including registered nurses at Akron General.
The affiliation deal gives nurses a bigger voice, Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer for the Ohio Nurses Association, said in a news release.
“Whether in Columbus or on Capitol Hill, nurses stand for quality care, for high standards and for improved working conditions,” Trautner said. “The legislative and regulatory reach of the largest union of professionals in the AFL-CIO amplified our voice and better prepares us for the many challenges we face.”
The AFT has 1.5 million members, including 48,000 nurses. The union also represents other health-care workers, teachers, early childhood educators, school-related personnel, higher education faculty and professional staff and government employees.
Agencies explore merger
The Stark County Public Health Study Commission is continuing to evaluate whether the Canton City and Stark County health departments should pursue a merger.
A phase one financial analysis report issued this month by the commission’s consultant, the Center for Community Solutions, concluded a combined health department “would have a much broader, and thus more stable and sustainable, funding base than either department could maintain separately.”
The consultant recommended a second analysis to evaluate employee issues, facilitate arrangements, technological systems and ways to manage cultural differences between the two departments before deciding whether to move forward with a merger.
Health departments statewide have been merging in recent years to more efficiently provide public health services, such as immunizations, restaurant inspections, birth and death records and other services.
The Akron Health Department and Summit County Health District finalized a merger deal in 2011.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.