Sports Concussion and Head Trauma

Sports Concussion and Head Trauma         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia 
evaluated by  Evaluated by: Dr Ryan Kohler, Sport & Exercise Medicine Physician, HeadSmart™ Sports Concussion Programme (July 2015); Dr Andrew GardnerEarly Career Fellow, Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle (January 2018)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 18 April 2019
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Physical Literacy and Sport
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This information on concussion is based upon current knowledge and practical application of guidelines for the recognition, treatment, management and recovery from the injury. The field of concussion research is dynamic, with new insights coming to the fore regularly. The recent exponential increase in the number of concussion publications in the literature has been summarised in various consensus documents issued by well-credentialed medical and sporting organisations. However, it should be noted that the science of concussion continues to evolve and current paradigms should be critically evaluated and periodically reviewed. 

Sport related concussion can affect athletes participating in many sports and at all levels of sport, from grassroots to elite. In recent years, there has been increasing concern about the long term health impacts of concussion and the potential under-reporting of incidents, which may lead to athletes being undiagnosed, untreated, and potentially suffering greater long-term impacts on their health and wellbeing. 

It is important for athletes, parents, coaches, and other support personnel to be aware of what should be done if a player does suffer a concussion, and in particular for clubs, teams, and organisations to develop and maintain a concussion action plan. The athlete’s safety is of paramount concern and every precaution should be made to ensure that the health and welfare of the player is the priority. If in doubt, sit them out.

Key Messages 


Keep up-to-date—our understanding of concussion and brain injury in sport continues to evolve, and new evidence helps to shape sports' policies and practices.


It is important sporting clubs, teams and organisations, develop, regularly review, and put in practice a concussion action plan.


The best medical advice—‘If in doubt, sit them out', and seek further medical assistance.

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