Acute Concussion Management in Sport

Sep 01, 2017

Seemingly in the headlines every week, concussion research is one of the most rapidly emerging and constantly changing present topics in sport. Many beliefs about concussions in the past have proven to be misconceptions and it is very important to make sure that our knowledge regarding this type of injury is up to date.  Early management of concussion is vital and anyone involved in sport; whether a trainer, coach, parent, or athlete, should have some knowledge of what to do in the case of a suspected acute concussion.

On Field (for trainers)
- Immediately stabilize neck + instruct not to move in the case of any suspected head/neck injury
- Check the athlete’s responsiveness + orientation (where are you? What day is it? What period is it? What happened?, etc). If unresponsive, check ABCs (airways, breathing, circulation)
- Clear c-spine + extremities and remove athlete from the field

Sideline (for all involved parties)
- If suspected of a concussion, an athlete should NOT return to play the same day regardless of how they say they are feeling after a period of rest
- Cool the athlete down (remove equipment if any, cool environment, ice, etc) – recent research has shown the possibility of a cooler body temperature reducing the damage to areas of the brain affected by a concussion
- Monitor for worsening condition

Couple Hours after Injury
- Monitor for worsening condition, no sleep for 2-3 hours
- Research is inconclusive on the validity of the common belief that an athlete needs to be woken up every 2 hours the first night after a suspected concussion
- Follow up with a certified concussion clinician within 24 hours

There is no current method that can be used to diagnose a concussion post-injury 100% accurately. Having said that, recent research and the most recent International Concussion Statement on Concussion in Sport (Berlin 2017) are recommending multi-modal baseline concussion testing for athletes, in order to provide a comparison pre- and post-injury.

At Active Physio Works, we offer baseline testing for individual athletes and teams, as well as post-injury concussion assessments. If you suspect a concussion or would like more info on baseline testing, give us a call at 780-458-8505.

Category: Sam Dalk, MScPT

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