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
- Lack of energy
- Loss of balance
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Ringing in the ears
- Change in sleep patterns
- 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
- 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