New guidelines for concussion and brain health released


Friday, 02 February, 2024


New guidelines for concussion and brain health released

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), in close collaboration with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and other major partners, has released new guidelines for concussion management.

The guidelines, released as a part of the Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement 2024, highlight the role of healthcare practitioners in both the immediate response and long-term management of concussion cases, particularly in community sports environments, and emphasise how the on-field presence and expertise of physiotherapists is crucial for monitoring evolving concussion symptoms and guiding athletes through the recovery process.

APA National President Scott Willis said, “The Concussion and Brain Health position statement is a significant leap in our ongoing commitment to concussion management. It’s a testament to our dedication to safeguarding athletes’ health and ensuring their swift and safe return to sport.”

The position statement was developed in partnership with international bodies such as the New Zealand Accident Care Commission (ACC) and the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and presents a comprehensive approach based on the latest global research and best practices.

Key features of the statement include:

  • Guidelines for a graduated return to sport, balancing caution with effective recovery strategies.
  • The principle of ‘If in doubt, sit them out’, prioritising athlete welfare and safety.
  • Emphasising the role of physiotherapists in early concussion detection and management.
     

“This position statement is more than a set of guidelines; it is a commitment to athlete health and a reflection of our evolving understanding of concussion,” Willis said.

While the statement offers detailed guidance, it is not intended as a clinical practice guideline or legal standard of care. It serves as an informative resource for consistent and safe concussion management across all sports levels.

“The statement provides clarity and consistency in concussion management, which is crucial for the safety of athletes across all sports. It stresses that we still have a lot to learn about concussion and there are areas where we need more data, more research and more clinical knowledge. That is why we have taken a cautious approach with the message ‘If in doubt, sit them out’.

“We recognise that individuals will respond and recover differently, but public health and safety is based on providing the best possible guidance and advice for everyone,” Willis said.

Image credit: iStock.com/NoSystem images

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