Concussion in sport

The days of 'copping a knock on the head' and playing on, are over.

The project

The aim of the project is to raise awareness and understanding of concussion and to ensure best practice management of concussion injuries thought all levels of sport and recreation in Western Australia.


The Concussion in Sport Education Project, is managed by Sports Medicine Australia WA (SMAWA) in partnership with the department.

Concussion in Sport Project

SMAWA received a $35,000 grant from the State Government for the Concussion in Sport Project, to create educational resources such as change-room posters, a pocket concussion recognition tool, policy guidelines and information for players, parents, coaches and sports administrators.

With the right education and risk management programs in place, the issue of concussion should not become a barrier to participation or an active lifestyle.

5 Rs of Concussion

By educating the industry about the 5 Rs of Concussion we can ensure that the health and well-being of players of all ages and all levels remains the number one priority.

These include:

  1. recognise
  2. removal
  3. referral
  4. rest
  5. return to play.

Management of children

A child’s brain is different and therefore requires a different management approach. Below the age of 13, children report signs and symptoms differently and therefore require age-appropriate questions which may require parent input and possibly teacher input. A Child SCAT 3 has been developed for use by medical professionals to assess concussion for athletes aged 5 to 12 years.

Parents whose child receives a concussion need to monitor the child for 24 hours after the injury. If they notice any change in behaviour, vomiting, dizziness, worsening headache, double vision or excessive drowsiness they should immediately take their child to hospital. It is also recommended that the child avoids any computer, Internet or electronic gaming activity as this may make the symptoms worse.

What is concussion?

Concussion is a brain injury caused by either a direct or indirect blow to the head, face, neck or body causing an impulsive force transmitted to the head.

It usually results in short-lived impairment of neurological functions that typically resolve instantly. However, in severe cases signs and symptoms may evolve over a number of minutes or hours.

The effect that a concussion has on the athlete can vary from person to person, depending on which part of the brain is affected. It can cause visible signs to those who witnessed the collision, including loss of consciousness.

When to suspect concussion

  • unresponsiveness
  • a fit or seizure on contact with surface
  • upper limb muscle rigidity or spontaneous movement
  • balance difficulty
  • slow responses or slurring of speech
  • vacant stare
  • confusion or Disorientation
  • holding the head
  • facial injury.

Concussion symptoms

  • headache or nausea/vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • memory loss/difficulty
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • not feeling right
  • sensitive to bright light and loud noise.

Concussion in Sport Symposium

Health and industry experts gather in Perth on May 16 2014 to discuss the latest research and strategies to tackle the issue of concussion in sport.

Concussion in Sport Symposium 2014: So how does the management of concussion differ in children? Speaker: Nicole Robb

Nicole Robb is a Physiotherapist who has worked in elite sports such as the West Coast Eagles, State Rugby and State Netball Teams. To assist those health professionals caring for children, Nicole's presentation provides insights into the age specific guidelines and management tools for use with children aged between 5–18 years.

The information contained in this YouTube video is for general information purposes only.

Concussion in Sport Symposium: GP Perspective: Making Return to Play Decisions in Non-elite Sport Settings – Speaker Dr Peter Nathan

Dr Peter Nathan is a Sports Medicine Doctor. He has worked on the match day medical team for the Rugby World Cup and other international tournaments, as well as being a match day doctor for the Western Force. His experience with on-field management of sport-related concussion is transferred in this presentation to a clinical setting, showcasing the fundamental role of the GP and the return to play protocol for sports-related concussion.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this YouTube video is for general information purposes only.

Concussion in Sport: Team Doctor Perspective  – Speaker Dr Gary Couanis 

Dr Gary Couanis uses his experience as team doctor for West Coast Fever, Western Force, Wild Cats and South Fremantle Football Club to explore prevention, recognition and removal from play also using video analysis techniques.

Training opportunities and courses

Sports Medicine Australia Western Australia branch logoSports Medicine Australia logoSports Medicine Australia (SMAWA) provides a variety of different training opportunities and courses to support the industry's understanding of concussion and how to manage it.

For more information about what's on offer, please see below or email SMAWA.

Club Concussion Workshop

One-hour workshop focuses on concussion injuries in sport and the management on return to play protocol. Topics include:

  • definition of concussion
  • common causes
  • signs and symptoms
  • assessment
  • game day management
  • specific sporting policies
  • return to play guidelines.

Emergency Response Coordinator (ERC) Course

Designed specifically for AFL, 3 hour hands-on course introduces the basic skills and knowledge needed to prevent and manage an injured athlete. The concussion section includes:

  • AFL concussion guidelines
  • how to recognise a concussion
  • AFL return to play protocol.

Club Injury Management Courses

Sports specific 3-hour course for volunteers involved with sporting teams to expand their skills and knowledge of injury prevention. All courses include a tailor made section on concussion. Topics include:

  • how to recognise a concussion
  • tools available for non-medical personnel
  • how to manage a concussion
  • return to play protocol for sport.

Level 1 Sports Trainers Course

This course is designed to introduce the basic knowledge and skills of how to prevent and manage injuries on and off the field.

A concussion section is incorporated into the Common Sporting Illnesses and Injuries Topic and covers the project’s five key messages on concussion.

Level 2 Sports Trainers Course

The Level 2 course is designed to build upon the skills and knowledge gained in the Level 1 Sports Trainer course. The curriculum:

  • definition of concussion
  • common causes
  • signs and symptoms
  • assessment
  • game day management
  • specific sporting policies
  • the role of helmets and mouthguards
  • return to play guidelines.

More information

Sports Medicine Australia WA

PO Box 57 Claremont WA 6010
Telephone 61 8 9285 8033 
Facsimile 61 8 9284 9239
Page reviewed 17 November 2020