Not everyone enjoys winter, but if there’s one thing to look forward to, it’s the start of the sporting season. Soccer, Rugby League and AFL are just some of the sports that will kick off their seasons in the upcoming weeks. Along with all the fun and competitiveness that comes with these sports, they also come with their fair share of injuries. These three sports in particular have a higher risk of injury compared to some others. There are a range of injuries that could occur during play, ranging from cuts and bruises to much more serious injuries. One of these injuries – depending on how severe it is can come anywhere in that spectrum – is a
A concussion – also known as a mild traumatic brain injury – is the most common type of head injury and is caused by a strong force to the head or neck. There is a much higher risk of these kinds of injuries occurring during contact sports and so extra precaution must be taken in assessing all head and neck injuries to ensure that the appropriate action and management is taken.
If these steps are not
taken and a concussion is misdiagnosed, and an athlete continues to play, they have a greater risk of developing further injury with potentially much more severe consequences including lasting brain damage and in the worst and very rare case scenario, even death.
So what should I look for when assessing whether someone (or myself) has a concussion? Some of the immediate signs and symptoms include:
Headache or pressure in the head
Confusion or memory loss with regards to the incident
Dizziness, ringing in the ears or looking dazed
Nausea or vomiting
Slurred speech or delayed response to questions
There are also some symptoms that may present themselves over the following hours or days after the incident. These include:
Concentration and memory complaints
Irritability and personality changes
Sensitivity to light and noise
If you are (or you witness someone) involved in an incident where their head has forcefully impacted with another person, object or the floor, the first step to do is IMMEDIATELY remove the affected person from play.
Whether or not the person feels okay is irrelevant at this point. The most important thing to do is to avoid the risk of further damage. If there is a first aid officer or medical professional available, they should assess the injured player for a concussion immediately and it should be their decision as to whether the player can return to play or not.
If any of the following symptoms are present at any time after a head injury, the injured player MUST NOT return to play under any circumstances and should IMMEDIATELY visit the emergency room at a hospital:
Neck pain or tenderness
Weakness or tingling/burning in limbs
Severe or increasing headache
Vomiting, seizure or convulsion
Deteriorating conscious state
Increasingly restless or agitated
If the athlete has been medically cleared by a health professional on the sideline, then they may return to play with caution. If any symptoms return, they must IMMEDIATELY come off the field and seek further medical advice.
If they failed to pass the medical assessment, they must not return to the field and should seek further medical advice. During the following days, keep track of your symptoms and seek medical advice and approval before deciding to return to play.
BONUS TIP: One way to help lower the risk of concussion is to wear a properly fitted head gear. While this may not completely prevent a concussion, it lowers the risk and also may decrease the severity of the impact.
Good luck in the upcoming season!!