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Concussion is an issue that can affect all of us in football. We all have a role in recognising possible concussion and making sure people get the right treatment.
What is concussion?
You're probably aware that concussion can be common in football. Concussion is a disturbance in brain function caused by direct or indirect force to the body (not always the head). It is a serious and complex health event that can have life-long implications for players.
Research has demonstrated women are more likely to experience concussion, and are likely to have more severe symptoms and outcomes from it.
Player history of concussion
Concussion is more likely, and likely to be more severe, if you've had one before. ANUWFC encourages all players to share any history of concussion with their coaches and/or other players.
This is an important step to help others in the club to be more alert to possible high-risk situations.
What to look out for: situations that may result in concussion
1. If a player collides with another player
2. If a player collides with a piece of equipment (e.g. a goal post or the ball)
3. If a player collides with the ground.
Concussion can occur even if there is no contact to the head.
Signs and symptoms of concussion
Signs are things you might notice about a player, especially immediately after one of the situations above. Signs of concussion include:
Lying motionless, getting up slowly, or having slow laboured movements
Being disoriented, or having balance and coordination problems
Having a blank stare
Having a face or head injury
Most concussions do not result in someone being knocked unconscious, but if someone is knocked unconscious then you should suspect a concussion
If a player tells you they think they may have a concussion, you should proceed as if they have one
Symptoms are things that a player may experience, especially immediately after one of the situations above (but they can take up to 48 hours to appear). Symptoms of concussion can include:
Headache or feeling "pressure in the head"
Dizziness, balance problems, blurred vision
Sensitivity to light or noise
Difficulty with concentration or memory
Drowsiness, feeling slow or like "in a fog"
"Don't feel right"
If you experience any of these symptoms following any type of collision, please report them to your coach and/or other players if you are able to.
You can read more about signs and symptoms on page 8 of the Sports Medicine Australia Concussion Policy.
What to do if you suspect a concussion
If there is a possible concussion, a player should not continue playing. A player should not return to play even if they seem or feel okay. Symptoms can begin up to 48 hours after a concussion. The player should be examined by a medical practitioner as soon as possible and before returning to the activity.
If you suspect a concussion, you can ask a player these questions. If they answer incorrectly to any of the questions, they should be removed from play immediately (noting that they could answer correctly and still have other symptoms):
"What venue are we at today?"
"Which half is it now?"
"Who scored last in the game?"
"What team did you play last week/last game?"
"Did your team win the last game?"
Severe head and spinal injuries
Page 9 of the Sports Medicine Australia Concussion Policy also includes information about serious head and spinal injuries and red flags to look out for. If you notice any of these red flags, please call an ambulance immediately for the player.
All players should be referred to a medical practitioner as soon as possible after a suspected concussion.
Page 11 of the Sports Medicine Australia Concussion Policy includes details about immediate management of a concussion, including what a player should not do (e.g. continue playing, drinking alcohol, taking some medications, driving).
More information about concussion
Please read the full Sports Medicine Australia Concussion in Sport Policy to better understand how to identify and respond to possible concussions.