CONCUSSION: 6 Steps in Return to Sport

October 13, 2022

Concussions, a form of traumatic brain injury, happen when the head takes a blow so hard the brain is bruised.

The Dangers of Concussion

When an athlete returns to play without full recovery from a previous concussion and then suffers a second brain injury the results can be disastrous.

Concussions are much more than the old saying, “He got his bell rung!” Concussions are serious, especially if they happen one on top of the other. When an athlete returns to play without full recovery from a previous concussion and then suffers a second brain injury the results can be disastrous.

This is called the SECOND IMPACT SYNDROME and carries with it high likelihood of permanent harm in the ability to think, remember, learn, speak, see, walk, and run. Emotions may be affected as well causing depression and anxiety.

Worse yet, a second concussion when not healed from the first, carries a high possibility of death.

What You Need to Know

As parents and grandparents here is what you need to know to protect your loved one.

First, who is at risk? Studies show that adolescents and young adults participating in contact sports like football, boxing and hockey are greatest risk.

Second, be on the alert for the possibility of the first concussion even if a head injury seems minor or the sport is considered low risk.

What You Need to Do

So, watch for signs and symptoms of concussion if you witness head injury. Symptoms like nausea or vomiting, dizziness, headache, balance problems; blurry or double vision; feeling hazy, foggy, groggy; confusion, memory problems, feeling down should cause concern.

If you think your loved one may have a brain injury do not delay. TAKE THEM OUT OF THE GAME, connect with a qualified health care professional independent from coaches & team physicians and DO NOT allow return to sport until symptoms have completely cleared  using the National Football League adopted Six-step Protocol defined by the CDC and your doctor has determined it’s safe to do so.

CDC Six Steps in Return to Sport

Step 1. Rest including brain rest (reduced screen time, reading), light activities like short walks. When symptom free, back to school.

Step 2. Light activity – 5 to 10 minutes on an exercise bike, walking, light jogging. NO weightlifting

Step 3. Moderate activity – jogging, brief running, moderate exercise bike, moderate intensity weightlifting

Step 4. Heavy, non-contact activity – sprinting, running, regular weightlifting. Non-contact sport-specific drills

Step 5. Practice & full contact – return to practice and full contact with close observation

Step 6. Competition – when athlete has completed all 5 steps without return of concussive symptoms may return to competitive activities

Final CDC Rule

AND REMEMBER THIS – If symptoms of concussion return during any of the steps more rest is required. When concussive symptoms stop, the athlete may start the return to play process at the previous step.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! Take care of you loved ones. Follow the Six Step CDC protocol for concussion injuries.


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