Concussion: Return to Sport Guidelines

April 8, 2010

Having a Doctor as a girlfriend has many benefits. Not only is she a dab hand at stitching up faces and draining cauliflowered ears, she also comes across tonnes of interesting information relating to the sport of mma.

Here is a really practical piece on the management of head injury.

Gradual Return to Sport after a Head Injury

  • You have sustained a concussion/minor head injury.
  • Prior to full return to sport it is important that you follow the stepwise system to allow you to return safely.
  • It is vital that your symptoms (listed below) have completely cleared at each level for a minimum of 24 hours before you progress to the next level.
  • You should not return to any full sporting activity in less than one week.
  • Where any unconsciousness or significant loss of memory has occurred there should be no full contact activity (Level 5) within 4 weeks. In these circumstances a medical review by your GP should be undertaken before any full contact activity.

Step-Wise Return to Sport Hierarchy

Level 1

No physical activity/ complete rest

Level 2

Low levels of physical activity i.e. symptoms do not come back during or after the activity

E.g. walking, light jogging, light weightlifting, light stationary bike.

Level 3

Sports specific training or   of physical activity with head and body movement

E.g. moderate jogging, moderate weightlifting, technique practice.

Level 4

Heavy non contact physical activity/ training drills

E.g. Sprinting, High intensity stationary bike,  non contact sports specific drills.

Level 5

Full contact controlled training/practice.

Level 6

Return to competition/ full training.

Possible Symptoms

Headache, dizziness, memory problems, poor concentration, irritability, tiredness, sleep disruption.

If symptoms develop at any exercise level then return to Level One (i.e. 24hours rest).

These guidelines are simple to follow, please ensure that your team mates and friends follow safe practices following a head injury, their brain will thank you.

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