Sports-related Concussion: When medicine and sport meet head on
Return to Play Guidelines

The Return to Play Guidelines were developed by internationally recognized concussion experts as part of the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport. These guidelines have been endorsed by many groups including ThinkFirst Canada’s Concussion Education and Awareness Committee.

Practical Tip:

It’s not unusual for a player to be at Step 4 for several months before moving on to Step 5.

The earliest most adults should return to play after a concussion is about one week. However, under special circumstances, some adult professional athletes will return to play earlier if their physicians agree that they are symptom-free. For children and adolescents, the minimum is two weeks.

The 6 Steps to Return to Play include:

  1. No Activity. Mental and Physical rest until symptoms disappear
  2. Light Aerobic Activity such as walking or stationary cycling
  3. Sport-Specific Activity such as skating or running
  4. Training Drills without Body Contact
  5. Training Drills with Body Contact - only after clearance by a physician
  6. Game Play
Return to play

Note: These steps do not correspond to days, though in general each step should take a minimum of one day. If symptoms return during this process, the person should go back to the previous level and try again after 24 hours of rest. Consult a physician if symptoms keep happening.

Did you know?

Only a physician should determine when to return to sport/life/school/work.