What is a Concussion?

  • A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It happens when a blow (hit) to the head or body disrupts normal brain function.
  • Some people lose consciousness (get ‘knocked out’) after a concussion, but most do not.
  • Occasionally, concussion symptoms may last longer than expected
  • X-rays and CTs of the head usually appear normal after a concussion.

What causes a concussion?

  • In a concussion, the head moves very quickly and stops quickly. This causes a stretching injury to brain cells.
  • A concussion can be caused by a blow to the head, face or neck, or sometimes the body.
  • Concussions are most often caused by motor vehicle crashes, falls, assaults and sports.

What are symptoms of a concussion?


  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Trouble with learning and memory
  • Easily confused
  • Slowed thinking, acting, reading and speaking
  • Trouble doing more than one thing at a time
  • Difficulty organizing everyday tasks

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Change in sleep patterns
Social and Emotional

  • Mood changes
  • Less motivation
  • Easily frustrated or overwhelmed
  • More impulsive
  • Social withdrawal

How is Sport Concussion Assessed?

Coaches often use a Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT 5) to decide if a player needs to sit the game out. SCAT 5 is an on-field and off-field assessment tool that looks at:

  • Red Flags: signs of severe injury
  • Level of conciousness (alertness)
  • Physical symptoms
  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Balance and coordination

How are Concussions Treated?

Concussions are managed with self-care:

  • Improving sleep
  • Stress management
  • Rest
  • Avoiding activities that make it worse
  • Avoiding video games, TV, computers
  • Headache treatment as recommended by your health care provider
  • Gradual return to school or work
  • Learning a step-wise approach for return to sports

Getting Back in the Game

A Step-wise approach to Return to Play:

Step 1: Limited activity. Example: stretching, gentle yoga, light walks
Step 2: Light aerobic exercise: walking, swimming, stationary cycling
Step 3: Sport-specific exercise. skating or running drills.
Step 4: Non-contact training drills.
Step 5: Full contact practice. Taking part in normal training, following medical clearance.
Step 6: Return to normal game play


  • A qualified medical professional must oversee this return to play plan.
  • Each step must take at least 1 day.
  • Return to previous step for at least 24 hours if symptoms come back

Prevention of Concussion

  • Inforce mandatory, well-fitted helmets
  • Limiting body contact in sport for younger age groups
  • Stricter rule enforcement on the ice and field
  • Education of teammates, coaches, teachers and parents
  • Protective equipment and safety training on worksites

Leave a Reply