CONCUSSION ADVICE - WHAT TO LOOK FOR, WHAT TO DO & WHAT NOT TO DO!

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that changes the way the brain normally works. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Even a 'ding,' 'getting your bell rung,' or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

Signs and symptoms of concussion can show up right after the injury or may not appear or be noticed until days or weeks after the injury.

If an athlete reports one or more symptoms of concussion listed below after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body, s/he should be kept out of action the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion says s/he is symptom free and is cleared to return.

SIGNS OBSERVED BY COACHING STAFF   SYMPTOMS REPORTED BY ATHLETES
Appears dazed or stunned Headache or 'pressure' in head
Is confused about what to do Nausea or vomiting
Forgets an instruction Balance problems or dizziness
Is unsure of score or opponent Double or blurry vision
Moves clumsily Sensitivity to light
Answers questions slowly Sensitivity to noise
Loses consciousness (even briefly) Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
Shows mood, behaviour or personality changes     Concentration or memory problems
Can't recall events prior to hit or fall Confusion
Can't recall events after hit or fall Just not 'feeling right' or 'feeling down'

Did you know?

  • Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.
  • Athletes who have, at any point in the lives, had a concussion have an increased risk for another concussion.
  • Young children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.

Concussion Danger Signs

In rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain in a person with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. An athlete should receive immediate medical attention if after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body s/he exhibits any of the following danger signs:

  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Is drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • A headache that not only does not diminish, but gets worse
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Becomes increasingly confused, restless or agitated
  • Has unusual behavior
  • Loses consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)


Why should an athlete report their symptoms?

If an athlete has a concussion, his/her brain needs time to heal. While an athlete's brain is still healing, s/he is much more likely to have another concussion. Repeat concussions can increase the time it takes to recover. In rare cases, repeat concussions in young athletes can result in brain swelling or permanent damage to their brain. They can even be fatal.

Remember: Concussions affect people differently. While most athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some will have symptoms that last for days, or even weeks. A more serious concussion can last for months or longer.


What should you do if you think your athlete has a concussion?

If you suspect that an athlete has a concussion, remove the athlete from the activity and seek medical attention. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Keep the athlete out of involvement on the day of the injury and until a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion says s/he is symptom-free and it's okay for them to return.

Rest is key to helping an athlete recover from a concussion. Exercising or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer or playing video games may cause concussion symptoms to reappear or get worse. After a concussion, returning to sports and school is a gradual process that should be carefully managed and monitored by a health care professional.