Concussion

Concussion can affect athletes at all levels of sport from junior participants to recreational athletes and elite and professional athletes.

There is growing concern in Australia and internationally about sport-related concussion and its potential health effects.

If managed appropriately, most symptoms of concussion resolve quickly. However, without proper management, complications can occur including prolonged symptoms and increased chance of further injury.

Concussion is a brain injury that interferes with normal brain function. Concussion is caused by a knock to the head or body where force is transmitted to the head. A person can be concussed with or without loss of consciousness. All concussions are serious.

Signs and symptoms of concussion vary, may be difficult to detect and can occur immediately or develop over the hours or days after the injury.

CRITICAL SYMPTOMS/SIGNS

OBVIOUS SYMPTOMS/SIGNS

SUBTLE SYMPTOMS/SIGNS

Neck pain

Loss of consciousness

Nausea or vomiting

Increasing confusion, agitation or irritability

No protective action in a fall to the ground

Headache or feeling of pressure in the head

Repeated vomiting

Jerky movements/seizure after a knock

Feeling slowed down or in a fog

Seizure or convulsion

Confusion, disorientation

Blurred vision

Weakness or tingling/burning in the arms or legs

Unsteady on feet or balance problems

Sensitivity to light and/or noise

Deteriorating conscious state

Memory impairment

Dizziness

Severe or increasing headache

Dazed or looking blank/vacant

Difficulty concentrating or remembering

Unusual behavioural change

Slurred speech

Drowsiness

Double vision

Cannot recognise people or places

More emotional

One pupil larger than the other

 

Confusion

  

Trouble falling asleep

Seek medical attention straight away.

A health professional will assess how serious the concussion is and when it is safe for your child to return to regular activities, including sports.

Keep your child out of play.

Concussions take time to heal.

Don’t let your child return to play the day of the injury and until a health professional say’s it’s okay.

Children who return to play too early risk a greater chance of having a second concussion.

Repeat or later  concussions can be very serious and can possibly cause permanent brain damage.

Allow time for physical and mental rest.

The brain needs time to recover from concussion.

To properly rest the child may need time off from school , sport and other extra-curricular activities.

Mental rest may include avoiding computer games, reading and watching television.

Tell your child’s coach about any previous concussions.

Coaches should know if your child has had a previous concussion.

Your child’s coach may not know about a concussion received in another sport or activity unless you tell them.

Children who are returning to school, sport or other activity after a concussion may need to:

  • Take regular rest breaks
  • Spend less time at the activity
  • Be given more time to complete tasks
  • Receive additional coaching or assistance
  • Reduce time spent reading, writing or on screens

Talk with your child’s coach/teacher or activity coordinator about your child’s concussion and symptoms. As your child’s symptoms reduce, the extra help or support may no longer be needed.

Fact sheet

More information

More information on concussion in sport is available through Sport Australia.