Never underestimate a head injury If you experienced a head injury, you need to consider that: 1) you may have suffered a concussion; and, 2) safely returning to play will take time.
A concussion is a brain injury that can affect your vision, memory, concentration, and general well-being. In real life, it is not easy to recognize that you have a concussion. Contrary to common belief, you do not need to have lost consciousness. You may be disoriented for a while after the injury, or you may have headaches, dizziness, nausea, and/or unsteadiness.
"When in doubt, keep them out" With every impact to the head, it is important to consider the possibility of a concussion. If you feel unwell, but think you can still play, that may not be a good idea. The safest approach is: "when in doubt, keep them out".
Do not take a head injury lightly In important matches or with minor incidents, you might want to return to play. A short touchline assessment helps in the decision. The "Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool" helps identify symptoms and can be downloaded here. If any of the described signs or symptoms are present, you might have a concussion and need to be removed from play. As a general rule, use this test for all head injuries.
When to return to play In general, most concussions will heal on their own over several days. During this time, absolute rest is required. When you are free of symptoms, a step-by-step guide will take you gradually back to play. Never return to play if you still have symptoms!
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR RETURN TO PLAY FOLLOWING A CONCUSSION: The athlete spends, at the minimum, 1 day at each stage. Performing the activity under each step without symptoms allows the athlete to proceed to the next stage. If symptoms return, the athlete moves back to the previous stage. 1. Following the injury, there should be no activity and complete rest. 2. Light aerobic exercise such as walking or stationary cycling. 3. Soccer specific aerobic exercise, with progressive addition of resistance training. 4. Non-contact soccer training drills. 5. Full-contact soccer training after medical clearance. 6. Ready to return to game play.
In the event that an athlete experiences a suspected concussion and a trained athletic therapist or physician is present, the initial sideline concussion evaluation should be carried out using the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3) to document initial neurological status. Regardless of SCAT3 testing results, all athletes with a suspected concussion must be evaluated by a physician and receive written medical clearance prior to returning to practice or gameplay.
Further contact information and instructions about how pediatricians, family doctors, and emergency room doctors can refer children to the Pan Am Concussion Program is available at www.panamclinic.org and for adults at the Sport Medicine Centre at www.sportmedicinecentre.ca Note: This information is based on scientific evidence produced by the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre F-MARC. All recommendations are to be considered in tandem with your medical practitioner.