What are the symptoms of concussion?
There is a common perception that you are only concussed if you have been knocked out unconscious. This is not the case and if any one or more of these symptoms are present after an incident then concussion should be suspected
– Blurred vision/dizziness
– Memory loss
– Loss of consciousness
– Slowed reaction times
– Emotional symptoms
– Feeling like in a fog
– Slurred speech
If anyone or more of these symptoms are present then a concussion should be suspected and you MUST remove the player from the ice. Players may not always tell you that they are experiencing symptoms and so if they are displaying any visual signs of concussion then you MUST remove them from the ice.
– Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
– Lying motionless on the ice/slow to get up
– Unsteady on feet/balance problems or falling over
– Grabbing/clutching of the head
– Dazed/blank/vacant look
– Confused/not aware of players of events
It is also useful to ask the player questions. Asking questions such as where do you live? What is your date of birth are not the best questions to ask as players tend to know the answers as they are ingrained in their long term memory. You need to be asking the following questions:
– What venue are we at today?
– Which period is it now?
– Who scored last in the game?
– What team did you play in the last game?
– Did you team win the last game?
Any athlete with suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY. They should not return to the ice, be left alone or left to drive home.
If is recommended that you refer the player to a medical professional for diagnosis and guidance about return to play.
What advice do I give to a player with concussion?
You must always give advice to someone who can look after the concussed athlete. Never let them go home on their own. Use the emergency contact on the medical screening form and contact their parent/guardian/friend/partner to explain that the player has had a suspected concussion and that they need to get checked out by a medical professional. A head injury form must be given to that person with information about what to do if there is any change in symptoms.
Never let a player go home on their own after a suspected concussion
How long do I need to monitor for?
You must monitor for symptoms for at least 24-48 hours. In the case of both Ben Robinson and Natasha Richardson they had symptoms after the time of the incident and both died. If any symptoms change then you MUST get them to hospital straight away.
For concussion we must follow the FIVE S’S
Understand what symptoms to look out for in order to help recognise a concussion
If suspected concussion then the player should be immediately removed from the game and sat on the bend
Ensure that the player is seen by an appropriate health professional e.g. Doctor, Graduate Sports Therapist, Chartered Physiotherapist
Stop all sport and rest.
Follow a SAFE return to play following the return to play guidelines
RETURN TO PLAY PROTOCOL
Most concussions in ice hockey will be simple concussions that will recover over a few days. For simple concussions the return to play will be quite rapid.
Return to play guidelines are as follows:
(1) No activity and the athlete must have complete rest. Once the player is asymptomatic (SCAT/DSST baselines are achieved and no symptoms experienced) then the player can commence to step 2
(2) Light aerobic exercise e.g. walking or stationary cycling. No resistance training
(3) Sports specific exercise e.g skating in ice hockey, progressive addition of resistance training
(4) Non contact training drills
(5) Full contact training after medical clearance
(6) Game play
Each stage should be documented in the injury notes and signed by the player (parent or guardian under 18) and the first aid. If symptoms are not clearing up after a few days then you must refer the player back to their doctor. Remember what has happened to Sydney Crosby. You can now download the HeadCheck changing room poster from the website. Please place on your changing rooms doors or for players and parents to see so that we can help educate people about concussion.
Documents to download