2017 Concussion Guidelines

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*This blog post does not serve as medical advice, rather to offer resources for those interested in learning more about recent updates in the area of concussive injuries.


Recently, experts gathered to review concussion guidelines and propose areas that need further study.  For a full report from the 5th international conference on concussion in sport, held in Berlin in 2016, click here.

The above document, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, serves as a guide for concussion assessment and treatment.  Individual treatment will depend on the circumstances around each individual case and should be determined by a medical professional, preferably as part of a multidisciplinary collaborative setting.

After a traumatic hit during a sport event, any of the following signs or symptoms could indicate a concussion:

  • headache
  • feeling like in a fog
  • emotional changes
  • loss of consciousness
  • amnesia
  • neurological deficit
  • balance impairment (eg, gait unsteadiness)
  • behavioural changes (eg, irritability)
  • cognitive impairment (eg, slowed reaction times)
  • sleep/wake disturbance (eg, somnolence, drowsiness)

Medical assessment and supervision is indicated immediately.

The new guidelines state that “After a brief period of rest during the acute phase (24–48 hours) after injury, patients can be encouraged to become gradually and progressively more active while staying below their cognitive and physical symptom-exacerbation thresholds (ie, activity level should not bring on or worsen their symptoms).”

Here is a chart that outlines how to gradually return to sports: Return to sports strategy.

For athletes and accident-sufferers who are in school, here is a chart that outlines how to gradually return to school: Return to school strategy

Lastly, although most media attention around concussions focusses on contact sports, it is important to remember that a concussion can occur any time you hit your head: during an MVA, a big fall while skiing or even a fall at home.  Please go see your doctor or the emergency room if you hit your head in any type of accident.  Early detection allows your physician to more accurately determine how your recovery will go.

Useful online resources from the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine are available here.  If you are interested in hands-on learning for you or your sports team staff, check out the Sportsmed BC courses here.

Play safe!

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