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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The CDC released new guidelines Tuesday, the first ever, to improve the care of children with mild traumatic brain injury, commonly known as concussions.
It’s estimated about 1 million United States children get concussions each year, but the real number is unknown because there’s no national tracking system.
The new guidelines propose a surveillance system to fill that gap and establish 19 recommendations based on a review of thousands of studies.
“It gives us structure,” said researcher Dr. Ed Renzel. “We didn’t have structure before and now we do and everybody should now be on the same page, that ranging from a football team trainer, to a parent, to even the student or the injured person.”
The new guidelines recommend against routine X-rays and blood tests for diagnosing concussions. Federal health officials say scans aren’t effective and blood tests haven’t been proven to work in testing for concussions.
The new pediatric guidelines are designed to make identifying concussions more common and accurate.
“It’s going to increase and further heighten our awareness regarding potential injuries, how to prevent them, and making sure that kids don’t return to play too soon and incur another injury which is much more severe,” said Dr. Renzel.
Researchers say signs of more serious brain injuries include headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, sleep problems vomiting, unconsciousness. Those are symptoms that may warrant more intense medical interventions including imaging.
The CDC’s new guidelines are for concussions from all causes, including falls, sports and car accidents.
They recommend rest from physical and mental activity including schools and sports immediately after a concussion, and then gradually resuming normal routines.
Two doctors from CHOP helped to form the new guidelines.