How to Know When You Have Recovered From Concussion

Concussion in relation to sports, the most suitable definition is a clinical syndrome characterised by the immediate and transient post-traumatic impairment of neural function such as alteration of consciousness, disturbance of vision or equilibrium due to mechanical forces.

Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), while mild in symptoms which majority of the time symptoms disappear, within a short period of time. This risk of having a second concussion before complete recovery from the initial concussion is referred to as second impact syndrome and may lead to cerebral oedema that, in many cases, results in permanent disability or death.

Repeated mild TBI has been associated with long-term cognitive impairment in the setting of neurodegenerative disease.

It is, therefore, imperative to screen patients appropriately who present after a recent blow to the head.


Early Identification of Concussion

Allows for appropriate limitation of activity in the post-concussion period, thereby improving the patient’s chances for recovery.

There is no single test that can definitively determine whether an athlete has had a concussion and when they are ready to return to play. Your healthcare provider should determine if the athlete is functioning at their typical level in all areas of life prior to clearance for sports.

It can also be helpful to receive information from the athlete, their parents, and teachers, as well as peers and coaches if possible.

Unlike physical bodily injuries a diagnosis of concussion is not as easy and can be easily missed. This may sometimes be difficult as the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea 

Current Gold Standard – Sports Concussion Assessment Tool SCAT 5

Developed and currently used in many sporting organisations to aid in the evaluation of athletes suspected having sustained a concussion. SCAT5 has two major components:

Immediate on Field Assessment Tool 
  • Taking note of red flags e.g. seizure, loss of consciousness or double vision
  • Checking for observable signs of concussion e.g. balance or gait difficulties or disorientation
  • Memory assessment 
  • Cervical spine assessment 
  • Examining the level of consciousness – Glasgow coma scale 
Off Field Assessment Tool
  • Symptom evaluation
  • Cognitive screen
  • A measure of concentration
  • Neurological screen 
  • Delayed recall

Recovery Guidelines Typically Consider Clearance Once the Athlete is:

  • Free of concussion symptoms for at least 24 hours
  • Off any medications started for concussion symptoms
  • Attending full days of school/work and training as per usual. 
  • Results from the off-field assessments – should be compared to preinjury baseline data or normative data sed to confirm recovery + concussion. 

Following clearance from a Medical Practitioner for the player to return to play, the player should progress through a Graduated Return to Play protocol (GRTP)


Want To Know More

If you would like to know more about this topic we’d recommend booking a session with one of our team, such as Lael Kassem who wrote this article.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

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