Dr. Anthony Alessi, chairman of the sports neurology section for the Academy said the revised guidelines call for a more individualized approach to concussion management, including prevention, diagnosis and treatment. For example, athletes high school age and younger will now be treated more conservatively than collegiate athletes and pros because, Alessi pointed out, a growing body of evidence shows they take longer to recover from concussion.
The new guidelines are endorsed by a broad range of experts and professional groups including the National Football League Players Association and National Athletic Trainers Association.
"They are reflective of the latest research and specific to the overall health and wellness of an athlete at any level, whether they play pee wee football or professional soccer," said James Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers Association.
Among other findings by the committee, it was noted that concussions are more prevalent when athletes play on artificial turf. Football and rugby carry the greatest risk for concussion, followed by hockey and soccer. Boxing and horse racing are also considered high-risk sports for brain injury and females are most likely to experience concussion in soccer or basketball.
Alessi said the recommendations stress the importance of having a licensed health professional trained in treating concussion at every game and practice at every level. He added that the first 10 days after a concussion appear to be the period of greatest risk for being diagnosed with another concussion.
Balzano for one applauded the new guidelines and said she hoped they would be adopted quickly by sports teams and professionals.
"Take every hit seriously and don't let anyone tell you not to worry about it," she said.
ABC Tweet Chat on Sports Concussions
At 1 p.m. ET today, Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical correspondent, will host a one-hour tweet chat to discuss the new American Academy of Neurology sports concussion guidelines. For the first time ever, the nation's top neurology and concussion experts will be tweeting live from the annual conference in Minneapolis. We'll also have experts from the National Athletic Trainers Association, the Mayo Clinic, Montefiore Medical Center and other special guests.
You don't need to be a Twitter expert to follow the conversation or jump in with questions and comments of your own. To learn how you can participate, click here.