"When in doubt, pull them out," is the crux of new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology on treating athletes who have sustained trauma to the head.
NBC Montana wanted to know if local athletic trainers follow that policy. We went to Montana State University and Bozeman High School to learn more about their policies regarding concussions.
One of MSU's trainers told NBC Montana they take athletic injuries seriously, especially concussions. Trainer Erin McGinley says her job is to help student athletes stay healthy and avoid injury.
"We work on prevention, treatment evaluation, and rehabilitation of injuries," said McGinley.
McGinley said they have a strict policy when a player takes a hit to the head. MSU officials said they move the athlete to the sidelines to test them immediately for concussion. If there are no signs of injury, the player's allowed to return to the game.
"(That is) based on our evaluation -- both the physical evaluation as well as the neurological testing," explained McGinley.
The American Academy of Neurology says in its new guidelines that younger athletes should be treated even more carefully than college athletes. We went to Bozeman High School to talk to athletic trainer Kylie Izzy.
"The brain is just more vulnerable to head injury (then). It's not as developed," explained Izzy. Izzy said the high school's policy is to pull a student out of a game after any heavy blow to the head.
"We like to use the cute little phrase 'when in doubt, sit them out,'" said Izzy.
Montana State University uses an extensive screening process. "It goes through reaction timing. Memory recall -- we'll show you a shape and you have to remember," said McGinley.
Trainers at MSU say they follow national neurological updates closely and will update their concussion policy when the NCAA approves any changes.
NBC Montana dug deeper in to the concussion issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control a concussion can occur in any sport. The NCAA says concussions make up five to 18 percent of all reported sports injuries. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea and memory loss.
The CDC estimates emergency rooms treat more than 173,000 sports and recreation brain injuries each year.