Recognise the signs
Concussion is a brain injury. It can happen in any sport. You don’t have to get knocked out or even be hit on the head to be concussed. Concussion is everyone’s responsibility – everyone can learn to recognise the signs and what to do.
This content is based on information from the Pocket Concussion Recognition tool 6 ™
You should suspect concussion if you notice one or more of the visible clues, signs, symptoms, or errors in memory questions.
What you see
- Loss of consciousness or non-responsive.
- Lying on the ground not moving or slow to get up.
- Loss of balance/coordination.
- Visible injury to face or head (especially in combination with any other signs).
- Grabbing/clutching of head.
- Dazed, blank or vacant look.
What they say – questions like:
- “What venue are we at today?”
- “Which half/quarter is it now?”
- “Who scored last in this game?”
- “What team did you play last week/game?”
- “Did your team win the last game?”
What they feel
- Blurry vision.
- Neck pain.
- Sensitivity to light and/or noise.
- Problems with memory.
- Finding it hard to think or concentrate.
- More emotional.
What requires hospitalisation
- Athlete complains of neck pain..
- Increasing confusion or irritability.
- Repeated vomiting.
- Seizure or convulsion.
- Double vision.
- Weakness or tingling/burning in arms or legs.
- Deteriorating conscious state.
- Severe or increasing headache.
- Unusual behaviour change.
Remove any athlete with a suspected concussion immediately from play. They should not return to activity until a medical doctor clears them to do so.
How to help an unconscious athlete
Apply first aid principles:
- Danger / Response / Send for help / Airway / Breathing / Circulation.
- Treat as though they have a neck injury - do not move.
- They may only be moved by a medical professional trained in spinal immobilisation techniques.
- Do not remove the helmet (if present) unless trained to do so.
- Call 111 if there is concern regarding the risk of structural head or neck injury.
It is useful to have a list of medical service providers that are close to where the sport/activity is taking place. A pre-activity checklist of medical service providers could include:
- Local doctors or medical centre.
- Local A&E Centre.
- Local hospital emergency department.
- Concussion clinics.
- Ambulance services (111).
What happens next
- Initial concussion management involves physical and mental rest until the acute symptoms resolve.
- A graduated programme of physical and mental activity, guided by a person trained in concussion management.
- Medical clearance and return to sport.