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New concussion treatment guidelines released

Mild TBI (traumatic brain injury), one of the most common neurological disorders, affects between 500 and 650 individuals per 100,000 in Ontario, and accounts for about 85% of all head injuries.

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TORONTO, Ontario (March 14, 2012) – In the past, the best approach to managing patients with a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, beyond the acute recovery stage has been unclear, leaving both clinicians and patients in a difficult situation. For the first time, however, a comprehensive set of guidelines has been created for patients who experience residual symptoms following a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Sunnybrook has played an important part.

Dr. Scott McCullagh, co-author of the guidelines and Director of Sunnybrook's Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, says, "we wanted to develop a set of guidelines that allows healthcare professionals to implement an evidence-based, best practice approach to caring for individuals with mild TBI who do not simply recover spontaneously."

Mild TBI, one of the most common neurological disorders, affects between 500 and 650 individuals per 100,000 in Ontario, and accounts for about 85% of all head injuries. While the prognosis after mild TBI is generally good, approximately ten to fifteen percent of these individuals will still have residual symptoms at the one-year mark, and risk having a poor outcome in their recovery.

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Assisted by funding from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, a group of more than 25 experts from across Canada agreed on 77 recommendations to be included in the guidelines. "In the past, best practice for treatment was not clearly defined, so these guidelines are aimed at reducing the impact of persistent symptoms following mild TBI in adults," says Dr. McCullagh, who is also Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at University of Toronto.

Persistent symptoms of TBI can include post-traumatic headache, sleep disturbance, disorders of balance, cognitive impairments, fatigue, and mood or anxiety disorders, each of which can result in significant functional limitations for a patient who has suffered a mild TBI.

The guidelines can be found in this month's issue of the Canadian Family Physician Journal, or on ONF's website at www.onf.org

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