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Concussion Fact Sheet for Athletes and Coaches, by Stanford Brain Performance Center

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Concussion typically results in the onset of short-lived impairments of neurological function that resolve spontaneously.

Recognizing and Concussion

An Athlete Who…

  • Appears dazed or stunned following impact
  • Forgets or is confused about an assignment, position, game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes

Symptoms of…

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems, dizziness, or double or blurry vision
  • Bothered by light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems
  • Just not “feeling right”, or “feeling down”

How to Handle a Suspected Concussion

  • Remove the athlete from play until cleared by a healthcare provider
  • Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself
  • Record events related to the injury, loss of consciousness, memory loss, seizures: and number of previous concussions to help the healthcare provider
  • Inform the athlete’s caregiver and coach about a possible concussion right away

Return to Play Progression

  • Gradual return to physical and cognitive activity after 2-3 days of rest.
  • No contact sports or risky activity until cleared for return by a physician with expertise in sport-related concussion

How to Keep Athletes Safe

  • Talk about the importance of reporting
  • Create a culture of safety on the team
  • Keep up-to-date on concussion information
  • Keep emergency contact information handy

Exercise – Sleep – Nutrition

  • Early cardio exercise (usually stationary bike or brisk walking/jogging) to support recovery for at least 20 minutes, 4x per week beginning the first week of recovery
  • Sleep is likely to be disrupted during concussion recovery – utilize sleep hygiene strategies
  • Maintain proper hydration and nutrition to support recovery

Anxiety and Mood

  • Track mood and identify triggers that worsen it
  • Schedule tasks when you are most efficient and give yourself plenty of time
  • Practice relaxation strategies (i.e. deep breathing, visual imagery, muscle relaxation) to reduce dayto-day stress and have a positive outlook
  • Go to the nearest emergency department for any severe symtpoms

Risk Factors for More Severe Injury

  • Drowsiness or inability to wake up fully
  • Headache that persists or worsens
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or seizure
  • Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
  • Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out), even if brief