WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?
A concussion is a brain injury that cannot be seen on routine x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs. It affects the way a
person may think and remember things, and can cause a variety of symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF CONCUSSION?
A STUDENT DOES NOT NEED TO BE KNOCKED OUT (LOSE CONSCIOUSNESS) TO HAVE HAD A CONCUSSION.
THINKING PROBLEMS ATHLETE’S COMPLAINTS OTHER PROBLEMS
• Does not know time, date,
place, period of game,
opposing team, score of
• General confusion
• Cannot remember things that
happened before and after
• Knocked out
• Feels dazed
• Feels “dinged” or stunned;
“having my bell rung”
• Sees stars, flashing lights
• Ringing in the ears
• Loss of vision
• Sees double or blurry
• Stomachache, stomach pain,
• Poor coordination or balance
• Blank stare/glassy eyed
• Slurred speech
• Slow to answer questions or
• Easily distracted
• Poor concentration
• Strange or inappropriate
emotions (ie. laughing, crying,
getting mad easily)
• Not playing as well
WHAT CAUSES A CONCUSSION?
Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the
body which causes a sudden jarring of the head may
cause a concussion (ie. a ball to the head, being
checked into the boards in hockey).
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF AN ATHLETE
GETS A CONCUSSION?
The athlete should stop playing the sport right away.
They should not be left alone and should be seen by
a doctor as soon as possible that day. If an athlete
is knocked out, call an ambulance to take them to a
Our aim is an injury-free Canada. Parachute is bringing attention to the issue of preventable injury
and to help Canadians reduce their risks of injury and enjoy long lives lived to the fullest.
CONCUSSION GUIDELINES FOR COACHES & TRAINERS
hospital immediately. Do not move the athlete or remove
athletic equipment like a helmet as there may also be a
cervical spine injury; wait for paramedics to arrive.
An athlete with a concussion should not go back to
play that day, even if they say they are feeling better.
Problems caused by a head injury can get worse later
that day or night. They should not return to sports until
he/she has been seen by a doctor.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE ATHLETE
TO GET BETTER?
The signs and symptoms of a concussion often last for
10-14 days but may last much longer. In some cases,
athletes may take many weeks or months to heal. If
symptoms are persistent (e.g, more than 10–14 days
in adults or more than 1 month in children), the athlete
should be referred to a healthcare professional who
is an expert in the management of concussion. Having
had previous concussions may increase the chance
that a person may take longer to heal.
HOW IS A CONCUSSION TREATED?
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT AN ATHLETE DOES
NOT GO BACK TO SPORTS IF THEY HAVE ANY
CONCUSSION SYMPTOMS OR SIGNS.
Return to sport and activity must follow a step-wise
STEP 1) After an initial short period of rest of 24-48
hours, light cognitive and physical activity can be
initiated as long as they don’t worsen symptoms. A
physician, preferably one with experience managing
concussions, should be consulted before beginning a
step-wise return to learn and sport strategy.
STEP 2) Light exercise such as walking or
stationary cycling, for 10-15 minutes.
STEP 3) Sport specific aerobic activity (ie. skating
in hockey, running in soccer), for about 20-30
minutes. NO CONTACT.
STEP 4) “On field” practice such as ball drills,
shooting drills, and other activities with NO CONTACT
(ie. no checking, no heading the ball, etc.).
STEP 5) “On field” practice with body contact,
once cleared by a doctor.
STEP 6) Game play.
There should be at least 24 hours (or longer) for
each step of the progression. If any symptoms
worsen during exercise, STOP activity and go back
to the previous step. Resistance training should
be added only in the later stages (Step 4 or 5 at
the earliest). If symptoms are persistent (e.g, more
than 10–14 days in adults or more than 1 month
in children), the athlete should be referred to a
healthcare professional who is an expert in the
management of concussion.
WHEN CAN AN ATHLETE WITH A
CONCUSSION RETURN TO SPORT?
It is very important that an athlete not play any sports
if they have any signs or symptoms of concussion.
When he/she is back to normal and has been seen
by a doctor, he/she can then go through the steps of
increasing activity described above. When the athlete
has progressed through these steps with no symptoms
or problems, and has received clearance from a
doctor, he/she may return to the sport.