Coaching Association of Canada

6 step Return to Play guidelines following a concussion

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A CONCUSSION is a serious event, but you can recover fully from such an injury if the brain is given enough time to rest and recuperate. Returning to normal activities, including sport participation, is a step-wise process that requires patience, attention, and caution. Each step must take a minimum of one day, but could last longer depending on the player and his or her specific situation.

  • Step 1: Symptom Limited Activity

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 Aerobic Exercise

Activities such as walking or stationary cycling. The player should be supervised by someone who can help monitor for symptoms and signs. No resistance training or weight lifting. The duration and intensity of the aerobic exercise can be gradually increased over time if no symptoms or signs return during the exercise or the next day.

Symptoms? Return to previous stage and only engage in activities as tolerated. If symptoms persist, consult a physician.

No symptoms? Proceed to Step 3 the next day.

  • Step 3: Sport-Specific Activities

Activities such as skating or throwing can begin at step 3. There should be no body contact or other jarring motions such as high-speed stops or hitting a baseball with a bat.

Symptoms? Return to previous stage and only engage in activities as tolerated. If symptoms persist consult a physician.

No symptoms? Proceed to Step 4 the next day.

  • Step 4: Begin drills without body contact

Symptoms? Return to previous stage and only engage in activities as tolerated. If symptoms persist consult a physician.

No symptoms? The time needed to progress from non-contact exercise will vary with the severity of the concussion and with the player. Proceed to Step 5 only after medical clearance.

  • Step 5: “On Field” practice with body contact, once cleared by a doctor

Symptoms? Return to previous stage and only engage in activities as tolerated. If symptoms persist consult a physician.

No symptoms? Proceed to Step 6 the next day.

  • Step 6: Game play.

 

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