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Get your head out of the game - Concussion in sport and why you need to take it seriously
What exactly is concussion?
The latest consensus statement defines concussions as 'a subset of mild traumatic brain injury without structural abnormalities on conventional neuroimaging modalities'.1
More simply put, concussion can be defined as a temporary disturbance of the brain's normal functioning, resulting from a blow to the head or neck, from either indirect or direct contact.
In Australia, Rugby league, rugby union and AFL have high incidences, as well as sports such as basketball, soccer and cricket, but it is important to remember it can happen in any sport.
Many athletes often don't take head injuries and concussions seriously enough. The phrases 'I'll be fine' 'I can play on' and 'I'll get it checked out later' are often too commonly seen in sports when players are being taken off the field for concussion.
Complications in concussion are not common if they are managed appropriately. Risks of complications occur when players are allowed to return to play too quickly. In 10-15% of cases persistence of symptoms is reported.
You can't see a concussion, so it is important that we recognise the signs and symptoms accordingly. Always listen to your trainers or other qualified personnel around you, and if in doubt, sit it out.
There are a number of resources available to help you learn more.
The World rugby concussion management has a great number of resources, and we encourage players of all disciplines to take a look.
The concussion in sport project, managed by Sports Medicine Australia, also provides a number of resources on the website here. https://sportconcussion.com.au/
1. McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvořák J, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport-the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. Br J Sports Med. 2017;51:838-47.
2. Prien, A., Grafe, A., Rossler, R., Junge, A., & Verhagen, E. 2018. Epidemiology of head injuries focusing on concussions in team contact sports: A systematic review. Sports Medicine, 48(4), 953-969.
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