In this episode of Ask Concussion Doc, we discussed concussion assessment, including on field, sideline and clinical.
If you are a coach, trainer or involved in sport and need help with your concussion programs and policies, we can help! We develop and enhance evidence-based concussion management programs for sports and schools – free of charge!
Please keep in mind that concussion assessment protocols may vary based on location. Watching, listening or reading the summary of this episode does not provide you with the necessary information or skillset to properly assess concussion injuries! Concussion assessment should be done by a trained healthcare provider.
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On Field Concussion Assessment
The ability to recognize concussions in sport and understand the proper procedures following an injury can help to protect athletes, reduce risk, and lessen safety concerns among parents and athletes.
Don’t take risks with the health and safety of athletes. When in doubt, sit them out. Any player suspected of suffering a concussion should be removed immediately and should not be allowed to return until cleared by a licensed healthcare professional with training in concussion management.
Dr. Marshall discusses some of the many steps of on field concussion assessment:
- When should you suspect a concussion
- Recognizing red flags and more serious injuries such as cervical spine fractures or skull fractures, for example
- Stabilizing the neck
- Instructing injured athletes not to move until a proper assessment is completed
- “What is your name?” – Assessing level of consciousness, cognitive ability and airway breathing
- Assessing orientation and memory
- When to call 91
Sideline Concussion Assessment
These assessments are a little different because the athlete is walking and moving. There is often less concern for more serious injuries; however, it’s important that the injured athlete is asked the Maddocks questions. These help to assess an athlete’s orientation to time and place, and provides an opportunity for sideline personnel to watch for potential signs and symptoms of concussion. Keep an eye out for a blank or vacant stare, balance issues, or even self-reported symptoms such as blurry vision or a headache. Any one symptom following an impact is an indication that a concussion likely occurred. Check out our educational concussion resources for more information on signs and symptoms.
Following this assessment, a trainer may move to visual tracking, cranial nerve screening, coordination testing or another sideline evaluation. Dr. Marshall discusses these in detail. Importantly, he addresses some of the signs and symptoms to look out for, which could indicate a more severe injury. This may include worsening symptoms, weakness or numbness in the extremities, increased concussion, vomiting or trouble with speech, among others.
Assessing concussion injuries, reporting and tracking can be enhanced through smartphone applications like the Concussion Tracker.
Clinical Concussion Assessment
In the final segment, Dr. Marshall discusses what is included in an in-depth clinical concussion assessment – specifically, acute concussion.
For information, watch or listen to the full episode below!