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  • Writer's pictureDr Daniel Mogoai

Why is it important for athletes to avoid Concussions in sport??

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury brought on by biomechanical forces following a sudden blow, bump, or jolt to the head. As the brain is suspended in the cerebrospinal fluid within the skull, upon impact or whiplash, the brain can move a small amount, causing damage to neurons.

Concussions are particularly common in youth participating in sports and are shown to account for 3-8% sports injuries that present to the emergency department.

Lower incidences of concussions were seen in sports of less physical contact, such as basketball and cheerleading, in the US, whereas physical contact sports, such as rugby, American football, and hockey, were shown to have high occurrences.

In the event of a concussion, a person may experience somatic, cognitive, mood, or sleep symptoms. These include but are not limited to dizziness, nausea/vomiting, lack of concentration, irritability, and difficulty falling asleep. Symptoms associated with concussion, particularly a sudden passing out or loss of consciousness immediately after a contact or collision, may indicate a serious brain injury and medical attention.

If you are currently experiencing the above symptoms and believe they are linked to a concussion, please seek consolidation from your doctor.

A kind of traumatic brain injury (TBI) where the head and brain move quickly back and forth is brought on by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a body strike.
Concussion Causes. Illustration source from Queensland Brain Institute

This blog includes the following:

  • What are 5 symptoms seen with a concussion in an athlete?

  • How soon should athletes return to sport?

  • Key takeaway

  • Related blog posts for athlete’s health concern

What are 5 symptoms seen with a concussion in an athlete?

Although most concussion symptoms typically resolve spontaneously, some individuals are at risk of delayed recovery. Delayed recovery of a mild traumatic brain injury takes longer than the typical 7-10 days to resolve. In any case, all concussion symptoms should be assessed by medical professional. Here are 5 symptoms reported by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention you should pay particular attention to...

1. Bothered by light or noise

Following a direct or indirect concussion, it is possible to experience photophobia and phono-phobia, which are increased sensitivity to light and noises.

An image of woman sitting on bed holding her head
According to a study conducted by Optometry and Vision Science, there are 40% of people who are suffering from brain injury with sensitive to light

2. Just not "feeling right" or "feeling down"

The sluggish feeling is the brain’s signal that you need to take more rest. You may feel highly exhausted when encountering a concussion.

An athlete yawning in the track and field
The majority of the brain's recovery happens while you sleep, athletes who have experienced concussions in the early stages of recovery frequently feel extreme tiredness and increased sleep, both of which are healing strategies.

3. Confusion, concentration or memory problems Concussions can cause confusion, headache, or even short memory loss. Conversely, agitation is present in 10% of athletes and people who may experience concussions. Confusion and agitation may last up to 10 days or, worst, 3 months.

A woman in a confused state before running
An early behavioral consequence of brain injury recovery that frequently manifests itself is agitation.

4. Difficulty balancing or dizziness

Because the brain is not fixed inside our skull, the movements that we are performing affect our brain. Jarring movements can injure our brain and be visible through a dilated pupil.

A first person image when being dizzy

5. Slurred speech, seizures, loss of body coordination or vomiting and nausea

If slurred speech or loss of body coordination is evident after a concussion, don’t think twice and bring the person to the nearest hospital. It might be damaged the muscles controlling speech and movement.

An image of a woman experiencing headache during concussion
After a concussion it is possible that your forehead or temples are the typical locations for pain in the front of the head. The discomfort is frequently characterised as "pounding" or "throbbing." It can occasionally be accompanied with nauseousness and sensitivity to noise and light. Image source :

How soon should athletes return to sport following a concussion?

Return to sports after a concussion are dependent on the severity and recovery of symptoms.

All athletes should engage with a medical professional with expertise in mild traumatic brain injury management to discuss their return to sport as they're at risk of repeated concussions. As concussion may decrease the threshold for repeated injury, the athlete's medical professional may recommend the following.

- Physical and cognitive rest: Time away from physical and psychological stressors may worsen symptoms and/or impede recovery.

- Ask the to avoid recreational drugs, alcohol, or sedatives as they may exacerbate symptoms or give a false representation of symptom severity.

- Take a graded approach for return to sport: A graded approach may include starting with light aerobic training, then progressing to basic sport-specific exercises, then non-contact drills, and finally contact drills prior to a full return.

Key takeaway

Concussions, whether mild or severe, should be given equal care, and consulting a medical professional at the earliest chance will help understand the severity of symptoms. All symptoms should be continued to be observed with caution if there is a change in severity or new onset.

Related blog posts for athlete’s health concerns:


If you would like to know more about sports nutrition and optimising recovery following training and competition, reach out to our Sport Dietitian and Osteopath.


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