The winter sporting season is well and truly upon us and with that comes the risk of concussions from many different sources. Some examples are: contact from another player, contact with trees and goal posts, falls and trips as well as the infamous falcon (ball to the head)!
Many people who sustain a concussion have no observable signs, which can make diagnosis difficult. Recognising the condition often depends on the affected person reporting the symptoms they are experiencing. These can occur either immediately after the head injury or minutes to hours later.
The diagnosis of a concussion is a medical diagnosis and can only be completed at this point by a medical doctor. It is important however to follow the 3 following guidelines when reviewing a player with a suspected concussion:
1. Recognising a suspected concussion.
2. Removing the player from the game.
3. Referring the player to a medical doctor for assessment.
The pocket concussion recognition tool is a great document that helps us to identify these symptoms.
Most codes including the AFL [AFL community concussion guidelines], Rugby [World Rugby Recommendations] and Football [FIFA Guidelines] now have their own concussion guidelines. These primarily follow a standard return to play procedure as recommended by the International Congress on Concussion.
The general guidelines are as follows, however please consult your health professional or sporting body for clarification of requirements.
If symptoms return at any level, 24 hours of rest and then resumption of the return to play protocol at the last symptom free level is.
Whilst seen by many as “Just a head knock”, the signs and symptoms of a concussion, whether it be brief or sustained, are an indication of an injury to the brain. The guidelines are there to protect all athletes from the worst case scenarios, so;
IF IN DOUBT, SIT THEM OUT
SPORT CONCUSSION ASSESSMENT TOOL — 5TH EDITION DEVELOPED BY THE CONCUSSION IN SPORT GROUP.