Why early intervention matters in concussion management

24/1/2024

There is growing concern internationally about the incidence of sport-related concussions and the health ramifications for athletes. Primary concerns are around the time required to gradually return to school, work, and sports after sustaining a concussion. 

While medical professionals have put in place return-to-play guidelines, incorrect concussion management and failure to follow protocols can have a detrimental impact on brain injury rehabilitation. Recent studies have shown that early intervention post-concussion incidences are linked to faster recovery. Therefore, improving concussion awareness and education amongst athletes, parents, teachers, coaches, and support staff is crucial.

Concussion protocols

Most sporting organisations have concussion protocols for suspected concussions, and while these may differ by organisation, commonly, an athlete with a suspected concussion must be immediately removed from play to undergo a concussion test. The most commonly used test is the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool, or SCAT. The SCAT is a standardised concussion protocol regularly revised and updated by the Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) and is designed to be used by healthcare professionals to diagnose a concussion sustained during a sports-related incident.

You can learn more about SCAT assessment tools here

Return to learn/return to sport 

Concussion signs and symptoms may evolve over time and as a result, the return to learn and return to sport protocols were introduced to help athletes begin a staged return to full sporting activity.  

‘Return to learn’ protocols outline the stages an athlete should take to return to their usual program at school or work. The athlete must remain symptom-free at each stage for 24 hours until they can move onto the next. Periods of intense concentration may increase concussive symptoms, so athletes should begin with light cognitive activity and shortened school or work days to gradually increase the load on their brains. Children and adolescents should not return to sports until they fully resume regular school or work hours.

The ‘Return to sport’ protocols outline the levels of physical activity an athlete should progress through once their concussion symptoms have cleared. Athletes should begin with light aerobic activity and, as long as concussion symptoms don’t reoccur, gradually increase the complexity of the activity every 24 hours until they return to full contact training. At this stage, a medical assessment is recommended to ensure the athlete is competition-ready. 

Failure to follow these protocols can increase the risk of long-term cognitive and physical injuries.

Concussion recovery at home

The brain is like any other part of the body ― proper treatment can speed up recovery. If an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion, they should adequately rest and continually monitor their symptoms to allow their brain to recover.

To better manage concussion self-care at home and streamline the concussion management process, we introduced the ConneQt application.

CSX is our elite concussion management platform for medical staff and sports managers to provide a streamlined sideline concussion assessment tool. CSX produces a digital record that can be shared with medical professionals, family and organisations to ensure coordinated athlete care, providing ongoing, comprehensive symptom checking with Integration of protocols with professional leagues.

HIT-IQ ConneQt is an integrated mobile ecosystem linking community-level team administrators, caregivers and players with medical professionals following potentially concussive events via a Telehealth service that specialises in the treatment of sports-related concussions.

HT-IQ ConneQt provides the highest standard of sport-related concussion care. Book your personalised 30-minute demo of HIT-IQ ConneQt or CSX today.

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