10 years is a long time.

Ten years is a long time.

When it comes to both the landscape relating to the management of concussion and the advancing role of the Athletic Trainer within sporting organisations in the United States a lot has happened.

As such, it was great to read the latest position statement from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) on the management of concussion.

One that provides an excellent update that bridges the condition and the profession.

One that considers the last decade of clinical evidence.

One that, if we reflect that the last position statement from the NATA was offered in 2014, is something that is overdue.

It is an essential read for all Athletic Trainers who want to consider an alignment between recent advances and current practice.

We have summarised the key points below.

Biopsychosocial Model:

The paper emphasizes a holistic approach to concussion management.

Beyond physical aspects, consider psychosocial factors (e.g., mental health, social support).

Personalized care is crucial.


Education and Prevention:

From athletes, to coaches, to parents improving education in this area is essential.

The paper underscores the authority of licensed medical professionals in decision-making.

Preventive measures, such as proper technique and equipment, play a vital role.


Assessment Advances:

The assessment process has evolved, including an update on the optimal value of baseline screening measures.

A comprehensive evaluation includes symptom assessment, cognitive testing, balance assessment, vestibular-ocular and mental health screening.

Athletic trainers should be proficient in these areas.


Prognostic Recovery Indicators:

Factors affecting recovery post-concussion are explored.

Initial symptom severity, early care seeking, and other individual characteristics influence outcomes.

Monitoring these indicators can inform key management decisions.


Mental Health Considerations:

Pre- and post-injury mental health are critical.

Screening for mental health conditions is recommended.

Establish referral networks for athletes with mental health needs.


Return to Academics:

Returning to school after a concussion requires careful planning.

Individualized support, academic adjustments, and communication with educators are essential.

Monitor academic progress during recovery.


Physical Activity and Rehabilitation:

Early controlled aerobic exercise benefits recovery.

Targeted rehabilitation interventions address persistent symptoms, including vestibular and cervicovestibular rehab protocols.

Gradual return to physical activity is part of the process.


Return to Sport:

Updated return-to-sport guidelines emphasize a stepwise approach.

Clinically directed aerobic exercise is part of treatment.

Individualized decisions consider the athlete’s well-being.

The above points can be quite daunting for some, when considering the complex and challenging nature of concussion and potential serious health implications.

The authors encourage Athletic Trainers to:

‘engage with domain-specific stakeholders who have expertise beyond the scope of AT clinical practice when feasible. Despite the updates provided herein, concussion science and care will continue to evolve, including in the areas of diagnostic and treatment capabilities. To best facilitate a successful outcome for their patients, ATs are encouraged to stay abreast of scientific advances and thoughtfully modify clinical policies within their scope of practice to provide evidence-based care whenever possible.’

And Your Brain Health is here to help Athletic Trainers!

We provide education with our specific level courses in addition to clinical support and networking through our Community Platform.

If you are an Athletic Trainer who works in this area please do reach out.