Written by Scott Cyr, Physiotherapist
When it comes to concussion management, the most common question we hear is about the return to sports and when athletes can get back into the game. Although that will greatly depend on the case, we can offer some general information that might help you understand what goes into the post-concussive rehab decisions! Here are 5 quick questions and answers for you regarding concussions that I see as a physiotherapist in Calgary South working in post-concussive care.
How Long After a Concussion Can I Return to Sport?
Timelines for concussion recovery can vary from person to person! In order to return to full sport, it is recommended you progress through a stepwise graduated return to sport protocol. Each step is to have 24 hours between to ensure no recurrence of symptoms with increased activity. If you experience symptoms at a specific stage, you must go back to the previous stage.
The return to sport protocol consists of 6 steps, therefore a minimum of 7 days is required to advance through the protocol, as long as there are no setbacks. It is advised that medical clearance is provided prior to re-engaging in any contact drills. It is not uncommon for recoveries to last between 14-21 days on average.
What Happens If You Return to Sport Too Soon After a Concussion?
Coming back too early from a concussion can lead to detrimental effects. It is highly important that an athlete be asymptomatic and progress through a graduated return to ensure they are safe to return to sport. By returning too early, an athlete puts themselves at significant risk. These risks include worsening symptoms, further injury to the brain/other body parts or even second impact syndrome – something that can have detrimental effects and is life-threatening.
Can You Play Sports After Two Concussions?
Yes! Although once someone has a concussion, it is more likely they will sustain another compared to their peers who have never had a concussion. Returning to sport after two concussions is the same protocol and step progressions after your first. You should no longer have symptoms and once you have received medical clearance, you may return to sport!
What Is The “3 Concussion Rule”?
The 3 concussion rule is an outdated “rule” that was developed in the 1940s. This arbitrary rule stated that if you were to get 3 concussions in a sporting season, you would sit out for the rest of the season.
No literature has been developed to support these claims. If you have sustained multiple concussions, especially in a single season it is important to have discussions with your medical team for further planning on recovery or potential referrals that may benefit you.
Can I Play Sports With A Concussion If It Is Only A Mild One?
NO! A concussion is a concussion and they are no longer graded or categorized (mild – severe). If you have a concussion, you should report to your medical team and complete a graduated return to sport, regardless of how minimal the symptoms are! That way, you can ensure your safe and effective return to sport.
In any case, it is absolutely best to seek medical attention if you suspect that you or someone you know has suffered a concussion. The sooner that you can seek professional advice, the sooner you will get back to doing what you love! To book a concussion assessment today, click HERE.
For further information on concussions including signs and symptoms, return to school/sport and a breakdown of the recommended step-by-step protocol, please access the following resource: