Sports medicine

Concussion

Concussion is the common name used for a mild traumatic brain injury.  It means that the brain has actually moved within the skull and the electrical signals within the brain have been disrupted.  Like in a computer when the wiring is impacted, the brain then cannot function as quickly or as well as normal.  

For many years concussion in sport was not taken seriously and players were encouraged to push through and keep going.  Now the Australian Sports conditions says “If in doubt, sit them out”!  

With better brain imaging and medical science we have learnt that head injuries, particularly repeated ones in sport, have long term impacts on the brain.  

Obvious symptoms of concussion are

  • Confusion
  • Double vision
  • Poor balance

More subtle signs can be 

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Poor concentration or feeling in a “fog”
  • Emotional changes – more irritable, more sad 

As a spectator or parent you only need to be suspicious for concussion not diagnose it.  That’s what your doctor is for.

Here is a little acronym “5 R’s” that has been developed to help you know what to do

  • Recognise the injury
  • Removal from play
  • Referral to a doctor
  • Rest 
  • Return to play

Frequently Asked Questions

If you child has any symptoms that make you worried about a concussion you should see your doctor.  For example, confusion, poor balance, emotional changes, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, fatigue.

Call an ambulance if your child

-passes out

-has a seizure

Is becoming more drowsy or confused with time

Has double vision

There is weakness in their arms or legs

They have neck pain

You are feeling really worried

Most concussions take 10-14 days for the brain to recover and return to normal.  If your child plays sports before that time they risk a further injury because of poor communication as well as more damage to their already injured brain.

Your doctor will advise you on how to slowly return to normal activities, school and then sport.  Everyone is different and some children need longer.