What’s your Concussion IQ?
Concussions can occur while participating in any sport or recreational activity. Since the circumstances under which a concussion can be sustained are so varied, it is important for all coaches, parents, and athletes to educate themselves on the signs, symptoms, and what to do if a concussion occurs.
Start by taking this short quiz to test your concussion knowledge. Hopefully the information you take away from it will help you better respond to, or even prevent, a concussion.
What is a concussion (check all that apply)?
- A bruise to the brain
- A black out or loss of consciousness
- A traumatic brain injury
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can change the way your brain normally functions. There is usually no physical damage to the brain, such as bruising. Blackout or loss of consciousness may occur at the same time as a concussion, but it is independent of the concussion. A whiplash injury may be associated with a concussion but is considered to be a different injury.
What can cause a concussion (check all that apply)?
- A direct bump or blow to the head
- Activity that causes a sudden increase in heart rate
- A hit to the body that causes the head to move rapidly
- Any other activity that causes the head to move rapidly
A concussion can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body or any other activity that causes the head to move or rotate rapidly (such as whiplash).
How do you identify a concussion (check all that apply)?
- By looking at a CT or MRI scan of the brain
- By watching for specific symptoms
- By attempting to walk in a straight line with your arms extended
- By checking your heart rate and blood pressure
Any change in the athlete’s behaviour, thinking, or physical functioning can be an indication that a concussion has been sustained. A concussion can’t be detected via a CT or MRI scan and some athletes may not experience and/or report symptoms until hours or days after the injury. Most people with a concussion will recover quickly and fully. But for some people, signs and symptoms of concussion can last for days, weeks, or longer.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion (check all that apply)?
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurred vision
- Seizures or convulsions
- Nausea or vomiting
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sadness or depression
- Neck pain
- Balance problems
- Problems remembering
- Problems concentrating
- Light sensitivity
- Sound sensitivity
- All of the above
Symptoms of a concussion can be physical, cognitive and/or emotional. It is important to note that not everyone who sustains a concussion will experience all (or even most) of these symptoms. What this means is that if any of these symptoms are present, a concussion should be suspected and evaluated by a health professional. (Keep in mind that symptoms and signs may be more pronounced later or the next day after the injury.)
How do you reduce the likelihood of getting a concussion (check all that apply)?
- Wear a properly fitted helmet
- Avoid high-contact situations
- Avoid high-contact sports until the age of 18
- Increased level of physical fitness, including cardiovascular and strength training
While helmets have not been proven to stop concussions, they can stop head bleeds and skull fractures. Make sure athletes wear the right protective equipment for their activity (such as helmets, padding, shin guards, and eye and mouth guards). Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained, and be worn consistently and correctly.
Teach and practise safe playing techniques where opponents are respected, while also encouraging athletes to follow the rules of play, practise good sportsmanship at all times, and maintain an optimal level of physical fitness.
What should you do immediately after noticing symptoms of a concussion (check all that apply)?
- Rest for a few minutes until the effects wear off, then resume your activity
- Tell a friend, family member, teammate, trainer or coach that you think you might have a concussion
- Remove yourself from the sport or activity
- Seek medical attention immediately
Look for signs and symptoms of a concussion if you or your athlete experiences a bump or blow to the head or body. When in doubt, always keep the athlete out of play.
Inform someone (parents, guardians, coach, etc.) about the possible concussion. Make sure the person you inform knows that the athlete should be seen by a health care professional experienced in concussion evaluation. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. The sooner the athlete seeks medical attention, the sooner he or she can get on the road to recovery.
What is the appropriate treatment for a concussion (check all that apply)?
- Mental and physical rest until symptom free
- Prescribed medication
- Psychiatric evaluation
When a player shows any signs or symptoms of concussion, they should not be allowed to return to play in the current game or practice. Physical activity increases post concussive symptom severity and prolongs recovery, thus, the most important initial management feature for concussion is rest.
After a concussion, when should you return to sports (check all that apply)?
- As soon as the immediate effects wear off
- After you have completed a 6 step protocol with gradual and monitored activity
- After you have been cleared by your doctor
It’s important to be cleared by a doctor, but a concussed athlete still needs to follow the 6-step "Return to Play" protocol:
- No activity, only complete rest. Proceed to step two only when symptoms are gone.
- Light aerobic exercise such as walking or stationary cycling. Monitor for symptoms and signs. No resistance training or weight lifting.
- Sport-specific activities and training (e.g. skating in hockey). No contact or risk of contact.
- Drills without body contact. May add light resistance training at step 3 or 4 and then progress to heavy weights. The time needed to progress from non-contact to contact exercise will vary with the severity of the concussion and player.
- Begin drills with body contact.
- Game play.
There are no time limits for the completion of each step, and each athlete will respond differently. However, at a minimum, each step should take a full day to complete.
Congratulations! You now know the basic signs, symptoms, prevention methods, and recovery steps for a concussion.
Click here to access additional tools, tips, and resources that will help you and your athletes stay concussion-free by knowing what to do and by keeping your head in the game!