What is it? Concussion is an injury to the brain which occurs during a collision when the brain is shaken within the skull. It usually only causes temporary damage, however repeated concussions have been linked to brain damage and consequently there is now clear guidance as to when to play on or return to play.
What are the symptoms?
Treatment? Applying a wrapped ice pack will reduce superficial bruising and swelling – but has no effect on any brain recovery.
Recovery? Most symptoms resolve in 7-10 days. If someone rests appropriately following concussion they will nearly always make a full recovery. Repeated concussions, particularly in children are associated with long term consequences and serious conditions.
Return? Children and adolescents may need 1-2 days off school and a gradual return to academic study. They can start light reading and small amounts of screen time. This should be monitored and stopped if there is a recurrence of symptoms.
At least 2 weeks with no training will give the brain a chance to fully recover. The earliest a child or adolescent can return to play is 23 days. If there are no symptoms players can then start the gradual return to play.
Crucial advice following a head injury:
• Don’t make things worse – important to take seriously and rest
• Do not risk injury again
• Rest your brain = lots of sleep, avoid reading, screens and sports for at least 24 hours / 48 hours
Coaches and first aiders should be confident to:
Remove – any player who has experienced a head injury and shows any of the above symptoms should be removed from play immediately. If a severe head injury has been sustained and you are concerned about the casualty’s spine; they should only be removed from the field by someone appropriately trained to do so. If worried and no one appropriate to help; reassure the casualty, support their head in a neutral position, stop the game – or move to another pitch and await removal of the casualty by paramedics.
Recognise – learn the signs of concussion. Only about 10% of people experiencing concussion will actually be unconscious, meaning 90% of people with concussion will remain conscious.
Vital to recover:
It may take 4-6 weeks before a player is fully fit and back to competitive play. This may seem a long time away from the game. However, it is comparable to the recovery time following a soft tissue injury and your brain is so important to every aspect of life, it is vital we take head injuries seriously.
Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life
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First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.