Nationally Accredited First Aid Courses

first aid pro logo

Concussion In Sport Australia

Concussion in Sport Australia

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch

What Is Concussion In Sport Australia?

Concussion injuries in sports is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when a person’s head experiences a sudden, forceful impact or jolt. Sports related concussion is a traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces. However, being “knocked out” is not always the case!

A sport related concussion is a common injury in contact sports such as football, hockey, and soccer, but it can occur in any activity where head impacts are possible. It’s important to take sports related concussions seriously and seek medical attention if you suspect you or someone else has experienced one. Repeat concussions can lead to long-term problems, traumatic brain injury, and permanent brain damage. Knowing first aid for common sports injuries is essential for coaches, parents, and seasoned and young athletes, as it can help to provide immediate care and prevent further injury until professional medical help arrives.

How To Recognise A Concussion?

Some common sports related concussion symptoms include headache, dizziness, confusion, and memory loss. Other signs to look for include slurred speech, sensitivity to light or noise, nausea, and vomiting. It is important to note that symptoms may not appear immediately and can develop over time. If you suspect someone has a concussion, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Do not allow the individual to continue playing or participating in physical activity. Rest is crucial for recovery, and a doctor can guide how to manage symptoms and when it is safe to return to normal activity.

Overall, it is essential to take any head or body impact seriously and to be vigilant in monitoring for signs of concussion. Individuals can recover fully and avoid further injury with proper recognition and management. If you’re still unsure, you can use the Concussion Recognition Tool.

Sports Concussion Symptoms

Some of the typical signs of a concussion are:

  • Feeling sleepy or drowsy
  • Experiencing a headache
  • Losing consciousness
  • Having trouble remembering things
  • Feeling easily annoyed or irritable
  • Being confused or disoriented
  • Having balance issues or feeling dizzy
  • Being sensitive to light (photophobia)
  • Having difficulty speaking or communicating
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or stay focused
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling nauseous or vomiting
  • Having changes in sleep patterns

How Should A Sports-Related Concussion Be Evaluated?

A sports-related concussion should be evaluated using a combination of symptom assessment, neurological examination, and cognitive testing. The evaluation should be conducted by a healthcare professional with experience in sports concussion management, such as a physician, athletic trainer, or neuropsychologist.

The first step in evaluating a sports concussion is to assess the athlete’s symptoms, including headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, or sensitivity to light or noise. The healthcare professional will also conduct a neurological examination to assess the athlete’s balance, coordination, reflexes, and vision.

Can Neuropsychological Assessment Help?

Cognitive testing may also evaluate memory, attention, and reaction time and rule out any other serious brain injury. This may involve standardised tests such as the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) or the ImPACT test. Imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs may be ordered if there is a concern for more serious brain injury, but these are not typically necessary to diagnose a concussion.

The healthcare professional will use the evaluation results to determine the severity of the concussion and develop an individualised treatment and recovery plan for the athlete. It’s important to note that the evaluation should be ongoing. Follow-up assessments are conducted as the athlete progresses through recovery to ensure a safe and appropriate return to play.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain injury, also known as traumatic brain injury (TBI), is a serious condition that can have long-term effects on a person’s physical and mental health. It occurs when a sudden impact on the head or body causes the brain to move within the skull, damaging brain tissue. Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by various incidents, including falls, sports injuries, car accidents, and assault. The severity of the injury can vary from mild to severe, with mild brain injury causing temporary symptoms such as headache, confusion, and dizziness. In contrast, severe brain injury can result in permanent disability or death.

Brain injury symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include physical symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and loss of balance, as well as cognitive and emotional symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and changes in mood or behaviour. It is important to seek medical attention if you or someone you know has experienced a head injury, as prompt treatment can improve the chances of a full recovery.

There are many different treatments for brain injury, depending on the severity of the injury and the specific symptoms present. Medication may sometimes be prescribed to help manage symptoms such as pain or depression. In contrast, physical or speech therapy may be recommended in other cases to help improve mobility and communication skills.

One of the most important things to remember about brain injury is that it can have long-lasting effects on a person’s life. Even a mild brain injury can result in symptoms that persist for weeks or even months, while severe brain injury can result in permanent disability or require long-term care. Despite the seriousness of brain injury, there is hope for those affected by this condition. With the right treatment and support, many people can fully recover and regain their quality of life.

In conclusion, brain injury is a serious condition that can have long-term effects on a person’s physical and mental health. It is important to seek medical attention if you or someone you know has experienced a head injury, as prompt treatment can improve the chances of a full recovery. With the right treatment and support, many people can fully recover from brain injury and regain their quality of life.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Or Treat Concussions?

Sports related concussions and other sports injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, are common among athletes, particularly those involved in contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer. Treatment for a concussion typically involves physical and mental rest until symptoms subside. 

Concussion in Sport Australia

Sports Concussion Treatment:

Medications may sometimes be prescribed to help manage symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or insomnia. Cognitive and physical therapy is also recommended to help with recovery and improve coordination, balance, and memory. It’s important to note that returning to sports or physical activity too soon can increase the risk of further injury and prolong recovery time, so athletes should only return to play under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Additionally, preventive measures such as using proper protective equipment and following rules and regulations during play can help reduce the risk of concussion in sports.

How To Prevent Concussions In Sports?

Concussions are a common and serious injury in sports, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent them. One of the most important ways to prevent concussions is by wearing properly fitting and appropriate protective gear, such as helmets or mouthguards. It’s also crucial to follow the rules and regulations of the sport, including avoiding dangerous or illegal moves that could cause head injuries. Additionally, it’s essential to properly train and condition yourself to reduce the risk of falls and collisions. By taking these preventative measures, you can reduce the likelihood of experiencing a concussion and keep yourself safe while playing the sport you love.

Concussion Prevention In Sports: 

Concussion prevention in sports involves a combination of education, rule changes, and proper equipment use. Here are some strategies for preventing a sport-related concussion.

  • Education: Coaches, athletes, and parents should be educated on the signs and symptoms of concussions and the importance of reporting suspected concussions to a healthcare professional.
  • Rule changes: Sports organisations can implement rule changes to reduce the risk of concussion, such as prohibiting hits to the head or reducing contact in practice.
  • Proper equipment use: Wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as helmets, mouthguards, and padding, can help reduce the risk of concussion and other injuries.
  • Strengthening exercises: Athletes can engage in strengthening exercises, particularly those that target the neck muscles, which may help reduce the risk of concussion.
  • Safe playing techniques: Athletes can be taught safe playing techniques to reduce the risk of head injury, such as proper tackling or heading techniques.
  • Rest and recovery: Athletes who have suffered a concussion should be allowed proper rest and recovery time before returning to play to reduce the risk of further injury.
  • Monitoring: Coaches, trainers, and healthcare professionals should monitor athletes for signs of concussion during practice and games and remove them from play if a concussion is suspected.

By following these strategies, coaches, athletes, and parents can work together to reduce the risk of concussion in sports and promote safe and healthy participation.

How Serious Are Concussions In Sports?

A sports related concussion can be very serious and should not be taken lightly. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or body. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise. Multiple cases of retired athletes and military personnel have been reported to have a pathologically proven accumulation of tau in the brain, referred to as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Head and neck injuries are common in many sports and can range from mild to severe, with potentially life-altering consequences. Sports medicine Australia (SMA) focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating these injuries in athletes.

Sports medicine is a specialised field that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing sports and physical activity injuries. Sports medicine practitioners work with athletes of all levels, from amateur to professional, to help them recover from injuries and improve their performance. They use various techniques, including physical therapy, medication, and surgery, to help athletes overcome injuries and return to their sport as quickly and safely as possible. Additionally, sports medicine practitioners work to educate athletes on injury prevention and proper training techniques to minimise the risk of future injuries.

Experts in this field work to promote safe practices and equipment used to minimise the risk of head and neck injuries and provide proper medical care and rehabilitation in the event of an injury. By prioritising the health and safety of athletes, sport medicine professionals play a crucial role in enabling athletes to compete at their highest level while minimising the risk of injury.

Why Is Concussion An Issue In Sport?

If not properly managed, sports concussions can lead to long-term problems such as cognitive impairment, chronic headaches, and even depression. In some cases, repeated concussions can lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can cause permanent brain damage and traumatic brain injury and has been linked to serious long-term health problems, including dementia and other cognitive disorders.

Athletes, coaches, and parents must take concussions seriously and follow proper identification, treatment, and prevention protocols to minimise the risk of long-term consequences.

What Is The 3 Concussions Rule?

The “3 concussions rule” is not an official medical guideline or protocol for managing concussions. It is a colloquial term that refers to the practice in some sports leagues or organisations requiring a player who has suffered three concussions to retire or take a prolonged break from competition.

The medical evidence does not support this rule and may not be the best approach to managing concussions. Each concussion is unique, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary widely from person to person. It’s important for athletes who have experienced a concussion to receive appropriate medical evaluation and follow individualised protocols for return to play based on their symptoms, medical history, and other individual factors.

Return To Play-what To Keep In Mind

When returning to play after a sports-related concussion, it’s important to keep in mind several factors to ensure a safe and successful return:

  • Follow a gradual return-to-play protocol: The athlete should follow a stepwise progression of increasing physical activity, starting with light aerobic exercise and gradually increasing to more intense activity, such as running, cutting, and jumping. The athlete should only progress to the next level if they are symptom-free at the current level.
  • Be patient: Returning to play too soon after a concussion can increase the risk of further injury and prolong recovery. The athlete should return to play once they fully recover and receive clearance from a healthcare professional.
  • Use proper protective equipment: Wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as helmets, mouthguards, and padding, can help reduce the risk of concussion and other injuries.
  • Monitor symptoms: The athlete should be encouraged to report any new or worsening symptoms to their healthcare professional immediately.
  • Follow a comprehensive management plan: The athlete’s return-to-play plan should be individualised and include physical activity and cognitive and academic accommodations as needed.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If an athlete is experiencing persistent symptoms, seeking additional medical evaluation and treatment may be necessary, such as referral to a concussion specialist or neuropsychologist.

Graduated Return-To-Play Process By Stage

Are you eager to get back in the game after a concussion? Don’t rush it! Going back too soon increases your chances of getting another concussion. And trust us. You don’t want that. A repeat concussion before your first fully healed can lead to longer-lasting symptoms like learning difficulties and chronic headaches. In rare cases, it causes traumatic brain injury, damage, and even death.

The GRTP program consists of six unique stages to guide your recovery journey.

First up is the crucial recommended rest period to allow your brain to heal. Then, the following four stages involve training-based restricted activity. This will help you slowly regain your strength and agility without putting yourself at risk of another concussion.

Finally, it’s time for the big moment: stage 6, the return to play. This is where you get to hit the field again, feeling confident in your ability to play without risking further harm. So if you want to get back to doing what you love, remember the GRTP program and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your brain. Your brain will thank you for it, and you’ll return to crushing it on the field in no time!

Concussion policies are available on the websites of the sports listed below:

Australian Football League

Australian Rugby Union

Boxing Australia

Football Federation Australia

Gridiron Australia

National Rugby league

Olympic Winter Institute of Australia

Long-term Consequences Of Concussion

Recent studies have raised concerns about the potential long-term consequences of concussion, with many former athletes being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy neuropathological change (CTE-NC) post-mortem. CTE-NC is a degenerative neurological disease associated with repeated head and brain injuries and trauma. However, there is still much to learn about the disease and why some athletes are more susceptible. To safeguard the health of athletes, it is crucial to promptly remove athletes suspected of having a concussion, treat each case carefully, and adopt a conservative approach to returning to sport. By taking these steps, we can help prevent further injury and ensure the long-term health of athletes.

One of the main challenges associated with concussions is that they can be difficult to diagnose. Unlike other types of injuries that may be visible on an X-ray or MRI, concussions often do not show up on such tests. Instead, doctors must rely on a combination of symptoms reported by the athlete and their own medical expertise to make a diagnosis. This can be particularly challenging for athletes who may hesitate to report symptoms to avoid being taken out of the game.

One of the key messages promoted by Brain Injury Australia is the importance of recognising the signs and symptoms of a concussion. These can include headache, dizziness, confusion, and sensitivity to light or noise. If an athlete experiences these symptoms, they must be taken out of the game or practice immediately and evaluated by a medical professional. Brain Injury Australia also stresses the importance of allowing athletes to fully recover from a concussion before returning to play. This means following a strict protocol that includes rest, gradual re-introduction to physical activity, and medical clearance. Book our Advanced first aid course and learn more about concussions in sports and equip yourself and your team with the best knowledge tackle a concussion.

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

Popular Posts
Recent Posts
An adhesive bandage and a first aid kit on a table
Bandage Alternatives — What To Use When You Don’t Have Bandages

Discover effective substitutes for bandages in emergencies with this comprehensive guide. Explore homemade alternatives, sticky tape options, wilderness solutions, and tips for managing allergies. Stay prepared for first aid situations with practical advice from FirstAidPro

supporting patient at therapy
Essential Steps in Mental Health First Aid

Mental health is often shrouded in misunderstanding and stigma. Delve deeper into mental health in your workplace and beyond. Mental health first aid is a crucial aspect of our collective well-being, yet it often remains misunderstood and stigmatised. In this article, we delve into the key steps of mental health first aid, aiming to demystify this essential practice and equip you with the knowledge and skills to offer support in times of crisis.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Rescue team (doctor and a paramedic) resuscitating the man on the street.
Demystifying CPR: Understanding Its Vital Role in First Aid

Delve deeper into CPR, its relationship with first aid principles, the different types & the protocols that guide it.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) serves as a vital bridge between life and death in critical situations. By maintaining blood circulation and oxygenation to vital organs during cardiac events or respiratory failure, CPR can significantly increase the chances of survival. Learn more about CPR’s importance, techniques, and its role in first aid principles in our comprehensive exploration.