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Guillamondegui: One standard needed to track concussions

Oct. 22, 2015, 11:40 AM

Data in sports concussion studies will continue to be disputed as long as the injuries are diagnosed by differing standards instead of universal guidelines.

Oscar Guillamondegui, M.D., MPH

That’s the conclusion of Oscar D. Guillamondegui, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt, in a review of a study on concussion incidence among peewee, youth and college football players. The review appeared Oct. 6 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the parent publication to JAMA Pediatrics, which published the study in July.

The authors of that study analyzed concussion reports over a two-year time frame compiled by the Youth Football Surveillance System for 118 teams, the National Athletic Treatment, Injury and Outcomes Network for 96 teams and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance Program for 24 teams.

They concluded that about one in 30 youth league players, one in 14 high school players and one in 20 collegiate players sustain a concussion annually.

“Until we are at the same table and all listening to the same data and until the organizations standardize that testing material, you are going to have an argument at the sports level as to what the true incidence is and whether it is something we need to worry about or not,” Guillamondegui said.

Guillamondegui, the director of the Vanderbilt Multidisciplinary Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, co-wrote the review with Michael Wandling, M.D., of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

They wrote that the study’s results did “provide valuable insight into the overall burden of football-related concussions and reveal particularly high rates during the games.” However, they noted the “inherent difficulties” in diagnosing concussions.

Guillamondegui and Wandling concluded that standard diagnostic criteria and a reliable system for longitudinal data collection are needed to accurately track concussion incidence rates. Guillamondegui said in an interview that concussions should also be monitored in other youth sports, not just football.



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