Concussion treatment guidelines changing

No longer are concussions graded on severity

SAN ANTONIO – In the past, concussions have been graded on a scale from one to three, with three being the most severe resulting in the victim being rendered unconscious.

According to the American Academy of Neurology, that way of thinking is now obsolete.

"Basically, a concussion is a concussion, and there really is no such thing as a mild concussion," said Dr. Evan Ratner, with Impact Urgent Care.

Not taking concussions seriously can have catastrophic results.

"When people have had multiple concussions they can develop something called CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy," said Ratner.

Victims suffer symptoms such as loss of balance, blurred vision, memory loss, even depression so severe that it can lead to suicide.

New technology is allowing healthcare providers to treat concussions more effectively.

"We have new tools -- neuro-cognitive testing -- that allows us to see when someone is back to normal," said Ratner.

Healthy individuals can take a test of brain skills online to establish a baseline of aptitude.

The tests are given again after a concussion occurs to determine the level of reduced brain function.

Once brain function is determined to be back at baseline levels, an athlete can be cleared to return to competition.

While its is not required by the UIL, the governing body for interscholastic athletics at public schools in Texas, some school districts are already beginning to baseline test their student athletes for concussions.

"Alamo Heights requires it and they have their own system which they take care of but all of their football players need to get a baseline," said Ratner.

If an athlete tries to falsify the results by keeping the baseline low in order to return to competition before it is safe, there are ways the computer program and analysts can determine a "thrown" baseline test.