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New CDC recommendations impact doctors treating youth sports brain injuries

Athletic trainers and doctors in Hampton Roads are using new research findings to establish a "standard of care" for treating youth concussions.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — Medical professionals in Hampton Roads said the new research on brain injuries in youth sports is changing how they treat children with concussions.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control released new recommendations for treating kids' concussions. The recommendations include using symptom scales to diagnose traumatic brain injuries, reducing brain imaging in the event of a concussion, and counseling patients to return gradually to non-sports activities after 2 or 3 days.

Dr. Joel Brenner, the medical director of CHKD sports medicine, said there is no such thing as a mild concussion when it comes to treatment, a brain injury is a brain injury.

Brenner said with each concussion a child is at a higher risk for another concussion at a lesser force. He added that new research shows concussion can affect a child's brain after impact.

"We're seeing psychosocial problems such as depression or anxiety, sleep problems, balance problems, and eye-tracking problems," he said.

Concussion effects can last longer for children with a history of depression, anxiety, learning disorders or ADHD, Brenner said.

In the Norfolk Public School system, Steve Suttmiller, the senior coordinator for athletics, said concussions make up 30 percent of the athletic injuries at the middle and high school level.

The CDC study recommends returning children to daily activity after 2 days of rest in order to normalize life and help the brain return to its full functioning capability.

Brenner and Suttmiller said that new study is helping establish a standard of care for treating youth brain injuries across the country. They said it's important for parents to remember that traumatic brain injuries are not a football problem, they occur in all sports.

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