RECOGNISE THE SIGNS.
Concussion is a brain injury. It can happen in any sport, you don’t have to be knocked out or even be hit on the head directly to be concussed. Everyone can learn to recognise the signs and what to do.
This content is based on information provided from the Pocket Concussion Recognition tool ™
Concussion should be suspected if one or more of the following visible clues, signs, symptoms or errors in memory questions are present.
What you see
- Loss of consciousness or non-responsive
- Lying on the ground not moving or slow to get up
- Loss of balance/co-ordination
- 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
- “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 &/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
Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be immediately removed from play, and should not be returned to activity until they are assessed medically. Athletes with a suspected concussion should not be left alone and should not drive a motor vehicle.
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 helmet (if present) unless trained to do so
- Call 111 if there is concern regarding the risk of structural head or neck injury
Anyone with a suspected head injury needs to see and be assessed by a medical doctor. Only a qualified medical doctor can assess and diagnose a concussion. This is essential to confirm the diagnoses of concussion and to assess the risk for more serious injury.
It is useful to have a list of local medical doctors, concussion clinics and emergency departments close to where the sport/activity is being played. A pre-activity checklist of the appropriate services could include:
- Local doctors or medical centre.
- Local hospital emergency department.
- Ambulance services (111).
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Initial concussion management involves physical and mental rest until the acute symptoms resolve then a graduated programme of physical and mental activity, guided by a person trained in concussion management, prior to medical clearance and return to sport.