Sports activity sometimes comes with a price: mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as concussion.

Although pinpointing exact numbers is difficult, various reports show millions of children involved in sports, with high school participation increasing annually, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Sports activity sometimes comes with a price: mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as concussion. Reported in early September, “The issue has become more pressing as youth sports have grown in popularity and because research has shown that repeated blows to the head, such as from playing football or heading a soccer ball, can lead to long-term memory loss, dementia and other serious health issues.”

Although not all concussions suffered by children are sports-related, elevated numbers prompted action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As summer 2018 closed, Deb Houry, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, issued this statement: “More than 800,000 children seek care for TBI in U.S. emergency departments each year, and until today, there was no evidence-based guideline in the United States on pediatric mTBI — inclusive of all causes. Health care providers will now be equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure the best outcomes for their young patients who sustain an mTBI.”

“Equipped” means there are now specific actions health care providers can take to help young patients as well as their parents or caregivers. The American Academy of Neurology and 2010 National Academy of Sciences methodologies pinpointed recommendations for new CDC guidelines that cover diagnosis, prognosis, and management and treatment. New CDC guidelines include:

— Assess for risk factors for prolonged recovery, including history of mTBI or other brain injury, severe symptom presentation immediately after the injury, and personal characteristics and family history (such as learning difficulties and family and social stressors).
— Provide patients and their parents/caregivers with instructions on returning to activity customized to their symptoms.
— Counsel patients and their parents/caregivers to return gradually to nonsports activities after no more than two to three days of rest.

In conjunction with the new guidelines, CDC developed supporting tools and materials for health care providers available at