Family physicians partner with NFL to raise student athlete concussion awareness

Source: NJ Today.Net

In 2006, Zackery Lystedt, a 13-year-old football player for Tahoma Junior High School in Ravensdale, Wash., was concussed during a game but returned to play and finished out the event. As a result, he suffered a severe, life-threatening brain injury.

Dr. Stanley Herring, the head physician for the Seattle Seahawks NFL football team and medical director of Sports, Spine and Orthopedic Health at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told the American Academy Of Family Physicians (AAFP) this outcome could have been prevented if Lystedt had simply been taken out of the game when he first was injured.

The incident led a group including Dr. Herring to advocate for enactment of a youth concussion law that would require medical clearance for youth athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion before they could return to competition, practice or training. “Within four years, we were able to get concussion laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” he said.

“Family physicians have good training in a variety of injuries and illnesses. So we wanted to produce a series of webinars, giving AAFP members a current resource for concussion diagnosis and management in young athletes so they can provide the best care to these patients,” Herring says.

But with concussion laws on the books and education for young athletes ramping up, what would be the next logical step? Providing up-to-date concussion resources for the health care professionals who treat these injuries. Thus, a partnership between the Academy and the NFL Foundation was born, producing materials for family physicians along with three webinars:

Sports Concussions 101: The Current State of the Game, defines concussion and identifies the signs and symptoms physicians would expect to see during an initial evaluation. A key piece of information to remember, said Herring, is that professional athletes routinely take five to seven days to recover from a concussion; in a younger person, recovery often takes 10 to 14 days.

Sports Concussions 102: If You’ve Seen One Concussion, You’ve Seen One Concussion, instructs viewers in how to best analyze the variability of the clinical presentation of a concussion, construct an individualized, evidence-based treatment plan and recognize when to seek consultation or referral for a concussed athlete.

Sports Concussions 103: Debates and Controversies,  covered long-term brain health in athletes; rule changes, practice and play modifications, and legislative efforts regarding sports concussions; limitations of protective equipment; and counseling parents about their youngsters’ sports participation

Patient education materials based on these webinars will be mailed to all active AAFP members after the webinar series concludes and also will be posted on

With national interest in the concussion issue currently elevated, said Dr. Herring, this is a great time for family physicians to update their knowledge on the topic. “The best thing we can do is offer the right resources and tools (to family physicians) so they can make informed decisions with their patients about concussion management,” he said. “I’m excited about this partnership.”

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