Concussion has become one of the major issues facing sport today and this is highlighted on a daily basis, as concussion stories are commonplace in the sports media.
Collision sports such as rugby, rugby league, soccer and AFL generate the most media interest but it is important to note that concussions can occur in any sport or physical activity (e.g. BMX, Roller Derby, etc.), and at any level (school, club, international, etc.) and at any age.
Amongst all the hype in the media there are a number of misconceptions surrounding concussion.
Here are five things that everyone should know.
1. Concussions occur relatively frequently and when managed well heal in 7-10 days.
It is when another concussion is suffered on top of an existing one that can lead to serious brain damage or even death.
If you suspect that your son or daughter may have suffered a concussion it is vital that they are removed from play and medical attention is sought.
‘If in doubt, Sit them out’
They should not return to playing that day and even then not until cleared by a doctor who is familiar with concussion. Click here for a pocket guide on the signs and symptoms of concussion.
2. You do not need to have lost consciousness to suffer a concussion.
A common misconception is that a concussion only occurs when a person loses consciousness or is ‘knocked out’.
Concussion can occur from moderate impacts or even multiple smaller impacts such as heading a ball in soccer without losing consciousness.
3. Only a Doctor can diagnose or clear a player of concussion.
While sports physiotherapists, nurses, sports trainers and first aiders are trained to recognise signs and symptoms of concussion, only a doctor is qualified to make the diagnosis of concussion.
4. Recovering from a concussion is not just about Return to Play.
It is also about recovering to return to learn (school) or work.
To heal effectively the brain needs rest as much as possible in the early stages following concussion. This includes from cognitive or thinking tasks such as watching TV, reading, studying or electronic games.
Click on the link for an excellent YouTube clip by Dr Mike Evans titled ‘Concussion management and return to learn’ for more information.
5. Not all concussions look the same.
Signs and symptoms can very from person to person and between concussion episodes.
The role of family and friends is vital in the detection of a possible concussion.
They may notice changes that others may not. It is important to seek medical advice if you have any concerns.
Jarrod Presland is a Strength and Conditioning Coach having worked across the spectrum of athletes from developmental to elite.