Signs and Symptoms of Concussion

Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY, and should not be returned to activity until they are assessed medically. Athletes with a suspected concussion should not be left alone and should not drive a motor vehicle.

It is recommended that, in all cases of suspected concussion, the player is referred to a medical professional for diagnosis and guidance as well as return to play decisions, even if the symptoms resolve.

1. Visible clues of suspected concussion

Any one or more of the following visual clues can indicate a possible concussion:

  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
  • Lying motionless on ground / Slow to get up
  • Unsteady on feet / Balance problems or falling over / Incoordination
  • Grabbing / Clutching of head
  • Dazed, blank or vacant look
  • Confused / Not aware of plays or events

2. Signs and symptoms of suspected concussion

Presence of any one or more of the following signs & symptoms may suggest a concussion:

  • Loss of consciousness - Headache
  • Seizure or convulsion - Dizziness
  • Balance problems - Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting - Feeling slowed down
  • Drowsiness - “Pressure in head”
  • More emotional - Blurred vision
  • Irritability - Sensitivity to light
  • Sadness - Amnesia
  • Fatigue or low energy - Feeling like “in a fog“
  • Nervous or anxious - Neck Pain
  •  “Don’t feel right” - Sensitivity to noise
  • Difficulty remembering - Difficulty concentrating

3. Memory function - Maddock's Questions

Failure to answer any of these questions correctly may suggest a concussion.

  • “What venue are we at today?”
  • “Which half is it now?”
  • “Who scored last in this game?”
  • “What team did you play last week?”

[Reference: Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool, Pocket CRT]

Click this link to download a printable PDF copy of the Pocket CRT

Visit our Resources page for more useful downloads.

The international Rugby Board (IRB) chose to group the signs and symptoms of concussion by 'Indicators' as per the table below. Some people find it more memorable to see them grouped this way, rather than just being in a long list.

Indicator

Evidence

Symptoms

Headache, dizziness, "feeling in a fog"

Physical signs

Loss of consciousness, vacant expression, vomiting, inappropriate playing behaviour, unsteady on legs, slowed reactions

Behavioural changes

Inappropriate emotions, irritability, feeling nervous or anxious

Cognitive impairment

Slowed reaction times, confusion/disorientation, poor attention and concentration, loss of memory for events up to and/or after the concussion

Sleep disturbance

Drowsiness

If a Player shows any of the signs described in the Table (as a result of a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with a force being transmitted to the head) they have suspected concussion.

[Reference; http://www.irbplayerwelfare.com - concussion module]