Sports-related Concussion: When medicine and sport meet head on
Key Learning Points
Key Learning Points
  1. A recent study found that 25.3% of Canadian hockey players (aged 16-21 years) sustained at least one concussion in a single season— that’s seven times higher previously reported.
  2. Athletes underreport concussion because they may feel a pressure to play, may not understand the risks, and/or may not recognize that their symptoms are caused by concussion. This can be improved once everyone understands the facts and are encouraged to communicate symptoms.
  3. Concussion symptoms may appear right away, or take hours, days, weeks or months6 to be recognized as related to the concussion. No two concussions are the same, and each will have its own set of symptoms and signs.
  4. Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) is believed to occur when an athlete sustains a concussion or other brain injury, and then sustains another head injury before the symptoms of the first have cleared.
  5. Concussions do not show up on imaging tests like MRIs and CATs. SCAT2 testing can be used to determine a preseason baseline and/or evaluate a concussion. An athlete’s progress can then be tracked through recovery allowing for appropriate decision making. A physician should lead all Return to Play decisions.
  6. Younger athletes take longer to heal than older athletes, and adolescents are the most sensitive to the effects of concussion. Women are more susceptible to concussion than men and take longer to heal.
  7. While more research is required to define the exact number, one study suggests that more than three concussions may lead to long-term effects, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is believed to lead to dementia in some patients.21
  8. Every patient should follow the 6 steps of Return to Play and see a physician between Step 4 and Step 5. Only the physician can decide when the patient can return to contact-related activities.