Recognising a Concussion
Updated: Sep 6
Concussion rates have increased by 60% in children in the last decade. A concussion is a disturbance of brain function rather than a structural head injury. It can be caused by both a direct impact to the head or an indirect force that causes the force to be transmitted to the brain. Only 10-15% of concussions have a loss of consciousness.
We are learning and understanding more about concussive head injuries including the short and long term consequences. Children and adolescents are at a higher risk of concussion due to significant physical and developmental differences.
- poorly developed neck muscles leading to less head control
- increased head to neck ratio
- brain cells and pathways that are still developing.
This means that the child's brain will result in greater injury with the same impact or force. Children also take longer to recover and may be at a higher risk of severe consequences such as second impact syndrome.
Recognising that a concussion has occurred is the first step of management. It is important to remember that a concussion can occur without direct trauma to the head and without a loss of consciousness. Symptoms progress and vary over time. Common initial early symptoms are:
lack of awareness of surroundings
nausea or vomiting
There are many symptoms that present with concussion and each individual is different and each event presents differently. Symptoms can be divided into four categories.
Somatic - what the person is feeling - eg: dizziness, fatigue, sensitivity to light/sound
Cognitive - how the brain is processing - eg: feeling foggy, slow to answer questions, forgetful, difficulty concentrating
Emotional - differences in emotions - eg: increase in sadness, irritable, more/less emotional, increase in anxiety
Sleep - changes to patterns - eg: drowsy, sleeping more/less
If any of these symptoms or others are reports to anyone the player needs to be removed from play and should not return until they are assessed by a medical practitioner. A medical practitioner will be able to assess the extent of the injury and guide the recovery. It is important that the recovery from concussion is graded and progressed slowly over time.