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Concussion Care and Management

Symptoms of a concussion can vary. Knowing when it's safe for athletes to return to play after a concussion is a complex process. Sending them back into the game too soon may put them at risk for a second concussion or a more severe brain injury.

Concussion Care During and After the Game

In an ideal case, a certified athletic trainer or doctor will:

  • Check the head injury
  • Conduct sideline testing and/or precognitive testing
  • Assess the reported concussion symptoms

If no medical professional is available the coach should evaluate to see if there are clear signs of an injury, and take the athlete out of the game. The athlete should be taken to a doctor trained in concussion management, to perform:

  • A clinical interview
  • A physical exam
  • Neurocognitive testing, such as ImPACT™ (Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing)

When in Doubt, Sit Them Out

There is no recovery timetable for concussions. Recovery time varies from person to person. Each athlete should have a personal exam and treatment plan, rather than be held to a fixed schedule. In many cases, athletes may need more active treatment.

ACMC's Concussion Management Program abides by international return-to-play criteria. Before clearing an athlete to return to play, our concussion experts will:

  • Perform a thorough exam and neurocognitive testing.
  • Make sure the athlete is symptom-free at exertion and at rest.

Seek emergency care for an adult or child who experiences a head injury and symptoms such as:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds
  • A headache that gets worse over time
  • Changes in his or her behavior, such as irritability
  • Changes in physical coordination, such as stumbling or clumsiness
  • Confusion or disorientation, such as difficulty recognizing people or places
  • Slurred speech or other changes in speech

Other symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Vision or eye disturbances, such as pupils that are bigger than normal (dilated pupils) or pupils of unequal sizes
  • Lasting or recurrent dizziness
  • Obvious difficulty with mental function or physical coordination
  • Symptoms that worsen over time
  • Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead in children, especially in infants under 12 months of age