What is a Concussion?
Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces that result in neurological signs and symptoms that typically resolve spontaneously within 1-4 weeks of injury.1
Head Injury Recognition2
Although the formal diagnosis of concussion should be made following a medical assessment, all sport stakeholders including athletes, parents, coaches, officials, teachers, trainers, and licensed healthcare professionals are responsible for the recognition and reporting of athletes who demonstrate visual signs of a head injury or who report concussion symptoms. This is particularly important because many sport and recreation venues will not have access to in-site licensed healthcare professionals.
A concussion should be suspected in any athlete who sustains a significant impact to the head, face, neck, or body, and demonstrated ANY of the visual signs of a suspected concussion of reports ANY symptoms of a suspected concussion as detailed in the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 (CRT-5). A concussion should also be suspected if a player reports ANY concussion symptoms to one of their peers, parents, teachers, or coaches, or if anyone observes an athlete exhibiting any of the visual signs of concussion.
In some cases, an athlete may demonstrate signs or symptoms of a more-severe head or spine injury including convulsions, worsening headaches, vomiting or neck pain. If an athlete demonstrates any of the “Red Flag” indicated by the CRT-5, a more severe head or spine injury should be suspected, and Emergency Medical Assessment should be pursued.
Return to School & Play
Concussion may affect the ability to learn at school. A child may need to miss a few days of school after a concussion, but their physician should help them get back to school after a few days. When returning to school, some students may need to go back gradually and may require certain accommodations to their schedule and environment to ensure their concussion symptoms do not worsen. If a particular activity makes symptoms worse, that activity should be stopped and the student should rest until symptoms improve.
To endure the student can return to school without any problems, it is important that the health care provider, parents, caregivers, and school staff communicate so that everyone knows what the plan is for the student's successful return.
A graduated, step-wise return to physical activity may be implemented following 24-48 hours of complete rest from cognitive and physical activities. The primary concern is getting students back into the classroom before returning to their sport.
Concussion recognition and management are complex processes that require a detailed understanding of the guidelines established in the Berlin Consensus Statement.
The Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport addresses these 7 areas in the prevention, recognition, diagnosis, and management of sport-related concussion:
- Pre-season education
- Head injury recognition
- Onsite medical assessment
- Medical assessment
- Concussion management
- Multidisciplinary concussion care
- Return to Sport / School
We recommended visiting Parachute's Concussion Protocol Resources for Schools for more information.
1 McCrory et al. (2017). Consensus statement on concussion in sport - the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. British Journal of Sports Medicine; 51(11), 838-847.
2 Parachute (2017). Canadian Guidelines on Concussion in Sport. Toronto: Parachute.