Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that causes alterations in brain function. The injury is at a cellular level and no structural damage can be observed on a scan such as an x-ray, CT scan or MRI scan.

Concussion can be caused by a direct blow to the head, but can also be due to a blow or collision to another part of the body (e.g. shoulder) which results in a rapid ‘whiplash-type’ movement of the head.

People who have been concussed are at increased risk of sustaining a more severe brain injury if they receive a further concussive blow (even a minor one) before complete resolution of the original injury. It is therefore important to recognise concussion and ensure that players and athletes who may have suffered a concussion DON’T PLAY ON.

You do not need to have experienced loss of consciousness to have concussion and many people may not even be aware that they have been concussed. The signs and symptoms may be immediate or develop over a number of hours, or even days.


The vast majority of concussions resolve in an uncomplicated fashion if they are managed appropriately and the brain is given adequate time to recover.

A concussion can result in a range of symptoms that are often mild but can be severe. It is important to avoid a further head injury while the brain is recovering from the original injury. This can lead to the development of more severe symptoms that can persist for longer. A further concussive impact before the brain has fully recovered (Second Impact Syndrome) has been linked to the development of significant brain injury and even death in exceptional cases.

Research is ongoing into the potential long-term consequences of repeated head trauma in sport, and its link to possible future development of chronic degenerative brain disorders such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and dementia.

Some proposed methods to reduce concussion risk include CHANGING THE RULES of a sport to stop foul play and DECREASE EXPOSURE to activities that can cause head injury in matches as well as in training sessions. The wearing of PROTECTIVE HEADWEAR can reduce skin abrasion head injuries but there is inconsistent scientific evidence on the effect of headwear on the reduction of concussion episodes. Recent best practice guidelines have demonstrated some benefit from the wearing of GUM SHIELDS in reducing the risk of concussion.

Concussions can happen to people of all ages, however children and adolescents are more susceptible, tend to have more severe symptoms, and take longer to recover.


If any of the following signs or symptoms are present following an injury the player should at least be suspected of having a concussion and immediately removed from play or training – DON’T PLAY ON. (This information is summarised in the ‘Highway Code’ document which can be downloaded via the link at the bottom of this page)

When does the athlete/player need to go to hospital?


Some signs/symptoms following a head injury may indicate a serious structural injury to the brain and require urgent medical attention. If an individual exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms they should be taken to the nearest hospital and may require an ambulance.

If a neck fracture is suspected it is important to keep the player still until someone who is experienced at assessing these injuries can advise on whether they are safe to move.

Clear indicators of concussion/suspected concussion


What you may see or hear immediately (may be one or more symptoms)

Other signs of concussion/suspected concussion


What you may see (any one or more of the following may suggest a concussion)

Symptoms of concussion/suspected concussion


What you may experience or be told

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