What is a Concussion?
A traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that shakes the brain inside the skull is a concussion. Although there may be no signs of injury this doesn’t mean a concussion hasn’t occurred.
Remember, most concussions will not show up on CT scans or other neuro imaging processes. There is also no set time for recovery, as everyone is different.
Concussions aren’t just from a “blow” to the head – any body blow can cause the whiplash effect that injures the brain.
The degree of severity is determined over time by symptoms and relief of symptoms.
6 Steps to Return To Play
A typical return to play or activity protocol is as follows.
Please note that each level is a step, not a day, so it may take more than one day to proceed between each step. However, each step should take a minimum of one day.
- No activity, only complete rest. Proceed to step 2 only when symptoms are gone.
- Light aerobic exercise such as walking or stationary cycling. Monitor for symptoms or signs. No resistance training or weight lifting.
- Sport specific activities and training (e.g. skating in hockey). No contact or risk of contact.
- Drills without body contact. May add light resistance at step 3 or 4 and then progress to heavy weights
The time needed to progress from non-contact to contact exercise will vary with the severity of the concussion and player.
- Begin drills with body contact.
- Game play.
The key to this approach is that the athlete should only continue to the next level when asymptomatic at the current level.