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International meet focuses on latest concussion research

Dec. 13, 2012, 9:42 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center was well represented in Zurich, Switzerland, at the fourth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, which assembled the world’s leading concussion medical experts and athletic governing bodies to discuss concussion care and policy.

Allen Sills, M.D.

Conference organizers were the International Olympic Committee, International Ice Hockey Federation, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), International Rugby Board and Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Allen Sills, M.D., associate professor of Neurological Surgery and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, is on the FEI medical committee and represented the equestrian governing body at the conference.

Assembled at FIFA headquarters in Zurich in November, the conference included a two-day symposium on the latest concussion developments and a two-day closed-door session to compose a consensus statement.

The statement will be published in March in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, along with 12 other topic papers going more in depth on certain issues. Sills co-authored the main consensus statement along with a topic paper on knowledge transfer, offering best practices for disseminating information and guidelines.

“I’m very proud that within the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center we have a number of national and international experts, and I feel like I was representing all of them at this meeting.”

Sills said one of the major developments to come out of the conference was universal agreement that a concussed athlete should not return to play on the same day, no matter the severity of injury. There were also scientific developments presented related to advanced MRI imaging techniques and potential blood markers for individuals more at risk for concussion or prolonged recovery.

New thinking was also proposed for the 10 percent of patients who do not recover from concussion within seven days.

“In the past we have tended to continue to try to withhold those athletes from activity and schoolwork. Now there’s an acknowledgement that that subset is a very different group with a different recovery trajectory, and we need to rethink how we treat them and get them reintegrated into their activities,” Sills said.

The consensus paper will include an updated Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT3) and the newly developed Concussion Recognition Tool (CRT), which is designed for non-medical personnel to screen injured athletes for concussion.

Sills continued the work of Craig Ferrell, M.D., former professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt and FEI medical director, who died in May.

Before Ferrell’s death, he championed FEI’s participation in the Concussion in Sport Group. The conference included a tribute to Ferrell’s commitment to equestrian safety.

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