What is a Concussion?

Content provided by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
A concussion is a brain injury that can affect how your brain works. Concussions may happen because of a hit to the head, face, neck or somewhere else on the body. When a hit takes place, the brain moves back and forth inside the skull. If it moves hard enough, the brain can become injured. This can make your brain and body work and feel different.


How can I tell if I have had a concussion?

Everyone’s concussion experience is different and not everyone reacts the same way. Signs and symptoms related to concussion can be grouped into four main categories: Physical, Cognitive and Mental, Emotional/Behavioural and Sleep (see image below for examples of each). For some people, recovery from a concussion is quick, and for others, the road to recovery is longer. It’s hard to predict how long a concussion will last.

So I have a concussion, what do I do?

When you’ve had a concussion, it’s important for you to immediately:

1. Stop studying, working or playing

2. See your doctor for help

3. Rest your brain and body

You and your doctor or healthcare team member need to work together to help you get better from your concussion. They will help you slowly go back to studying, working or playing. Keep in mind – to get better you need physical and mental rest. Taking steps to conserve energy, get enough sleep, relax, eat the right food and plan return to school or activities, will help you to conserve energy and manage your concussion.


Rowan’s Law
Concussion Resources


Effective July 1, 2021, under Rowan’s Law, clubs must ensure that athletes under 26 years of age, parents of athletes under 18, Coaches, Team Trainers and Team Officials MUST confirm every year that they have reviewed Ontario’s Concussion Awareness Resources. The Concussion Awareness Resources can be accessed free of charge at the following web location (additional information is available at the bottom of this document). A Confirmation Receipt for review of Concussion Awareness Resources must be completed by each registered participant and managed by the community sport organization for athletes under 26 years of age, parents of athletes under 18, Coaches, Team Trainers and Team Officials before participating in their sport (a sample of the BCSC code of Conduct for Parents, Athletes and Guardians is below as is a sample of the Confirmation Receipt will be required to be completed). This process is completed at the time of registration.

Concussion Code of Conduct for ATHLETES & PARENTS/GUARDIANS

I will help prevent concussions by ensuring my child/I is/am:

Ÿ       Wearing the proper equipment for the sport and wearing it correctly.

Ÿ       Developing their/my skills and strength so that they/I can participate to the best of their/my ability.

Ÿ       Respecting the rules of the sport or activity.

Ÿ       Committed to fair play and respect for all (respecting other athletes, coaches, team trainers and officials).

I will care for my child’s/my health and safety by taking concussions seriously, and I understand that:

Ÿ       A concussion is a brain injury that can have both short- and long-term effects.

Ÿ       A blow to my child’s/my head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that causes the brain to move around inside the skull may cause a concussion.

Ÿ       My child/I don’t need to lose consciousness to have had a concussion.

Ÿ       I have a commitment to concussion recognition and reporting, including self-reporting of possible concussion/reporting of a possible concussion by my child and reporting to a designated person when I suspect that another individual may have sustained a concussion.

Ÿ       By allowing by child/myself to continue to participate in further training, practice or competition with a possible concussion increases my child/my risk of more severe, longer lasting symptoms, and increases my risk of other injuries.

I will not hide concussion symptoms. I will speak up for myself and others”

Ÿ       I will not hide my child/my symptoms. I will tell a coach, official, team trainer, parent or another adult I trust if my child/I experience any symptoms of concussion.

Ÿ       If someone else tells me/my child about concussion symptoms, or I see signs they might have a concussion, I will tell a coach, official, team trainer, parent or another adult I trust so they can help.

Ÿ       I understand that if my child/I have a suspected concussion, my child/I will be removed from sport and that my child/I will not be able to return to training, practice or competition until my child/I undergo a medical assessment by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner and have been medically cleared to return to training, practice or competition. My child/I have a commitment to sharing any pertinent information regarding incidents of removal from sport with the athlete’s school and any other sport organization with which the athlete has registered.

My child/I will take the time my child/I need to recover, because it is important for my child/my health.

Ÿ       I understand my commitment to supporting the return-to-sport process.

Ÿ       I understand my child/I will have to be medically cleared by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner before returning to training, practice or competition.

Ÿ       My child/I will respect my coaches, team trainers, parents, health-care professionals, and medical doctors and nurse practitioners, regarding my health and safety.

My child/I can help prevent concussions, through my child/my:

Ÿ       Commitment to zero-tolerance for prohibited play that is considered high risk for causing concussions.

Ÿ       Acknowledgement of mandatory expulsion from competition for violating zero tolerance for prohibited play that is considered high risk for causing concussions.

Ÿ      Acknowledgement of the escalating consequences for those who repeatedly violate the Concussion Code of Conduct.

Confirmation Receipt of Review of Concussion Awareness Resource 

Thank you for completing your review of the Concussion Awareness Resource.

Ÿ       Under Rowan’s Law, Brantford City Soccer Club, will ask you to confirm that you reviewed one of the Concussion Awareness Resources in this website (Ontario.ca/concussions) before you can register/participate in soccer.

Ÿ       You must review one of the resources once a year, and then confirm that you have completed the review every time you register with Brantford City Soccer Club.

Ÿ       Once you complete this form, you can save it (to your personal device/computer) or print this page to share with other sports organization and/or to serve as a reminder of when to review the Concussion Awareness Resources again next year.

Ÿ       I have reviewed the Concussion Code of Conduct for ATHLETES & PARENTS/GUARDIANS and agree that my child and I/I will adhere to the protocols listed in the Code of Conduct.

Receipt of Review

I, __________________ (name) confirm that I have reviewed a Concussion Awareness Resource.

____________________                                                                                          ___________________

Signature                                                                                                                      Date


Rowan’s Law Documents

Concussion Management Protocol

Removal from Sport and Return to Sport Template

Concussion Code of Conduct for Coaches and Trainers


Additional Concussion Management Resources

Concussions are the most common form of head injury caused by an impact or forceful motion of the head or other part of the body, resulting in rapid movement of the brain within the skull.

A concussion can happen to anyone at any time. Common causes include falls, motor vehicle crashes, and sports and recreational activities.

MYTH: If the person was not hit in the head or did not lose consciousness, they do not have a concussion.  

FACT: A blow to the head is not the only way someone can sustain a concussion—a concussion may be caused by a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or a blow elsewhere on the body with an ‘impulsive’ force transmitted to the head. Concussions occur from blows to different parts of the body of varying magnitude. A relatively minor impact may result in a concussion, while a high-magnitude hit may not. There is therefore no way to know for certain whether a particular blow will lead to a concussion.

Any head injury needs to be taken seriously. Most concussions, managed appropriately, resolve without complications. On some occasion, concussion injuries can be more serious and result in long-term disabilities.

The real danger of most concussions occurs when the injury is not recognized or is managed incorrectly. Returning to activities too early can put a person at increased risk for future concussions, prolonging their symptoms and potentially leading to serious complications.

Second Impact Syndrome is a rare but typically fatal injury that may result if a person sustains another concussion before their brain has healed.

MYTH: Concussions aren’t a big deal, and a person with a concussion or a suspected concussion doesn’t need to go to the Emergency Room.

FACTIf the person shows any of the Red Flag Symptoms call 911 IMMEDIATELY.

  • Neck pain or tenderness
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling/burning in arms or legs
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Deteriorating conscious state
  • Vomiting
  • Increasingly restless, agitated, or combative

If there are no Red Flag symptoms:

  • Notify an emergency contact person, parent or guardian
  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Continue to monitor for Red Flag and signs of a concussion
  • Do not let the person return to the activity or sport
  • Do not give the person any immediate medication
  • Do not let the person leave alone
  • Do not let the person drive or ride a bike

 MYTH: A person with a potential concussion can return to sport, play, or normal activity the same day. 

FACT: If a person has a suspected concussion, they should NOT return to sport or activity and should be seen by a medical professional and/or monitored for delayed symptoms for 48 hours.

A person with a suspected concussion should not be left alone initially. The person should NOT BE woken up, but should be monitored throughout the night for anything out of the ordinary. Only wake the person if you have concerns about the person’s breathing, changes in skin colour, or how they are sleeping. Call 911 if the person is slow to wake or shows any of the Red Flag symptoms. If sleeping normally, let them sleep to allow the brain to rest. Sleep is an important part of the recovery process.

If no signs or symptoms appear within the first 48 hours, the person can return to normal activities but should be monitored for several days. If no signs or symptoms appear, chances are that no concussion was sustained. If unsure, please see your medical professional for clearance.

Depending on the circumstance, the emergency contact person, parent, or guardian should take the person to a medical professional and/or monitored for delayed symptoms for 48 hours.

MYTH: Complete recovery from a concussion only takes 2 to 3 days.

FACT: Children and youth tend to experience a longer recovery period than adults. On average, an adult takes 7 to 10 days to recover, whereas children and youth may take 2 to 4 weeks to heal. Most concussion cases (about 85%) will fully recover within 3 months; however, some symptoms can last for months and have the potential to cause long-term difficulties.

MYTH: A person needs to stay in bed and rest for at least a week to recover from a concussion.

FACT: The recovery process for concussion begins with resting the brain for up to 2 days, followed by a gradual and well-managed return to activity. This is best done in collaboration with key individuals in the person’s life such as health care providers, family members (parent/partner/caregiver), friends, employers, teachers and school staff, coaches, etc.

Recovery from concussion spans the home and work/school/sport settings. It starts immediately following the concussion causing incident and ends when the person has gradually returned to normal activities including school, work, and physical activity.

A concussion can have a significant impact on someone’s physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. The recovery process involves balancing activity levels so that the person does not do too much or too little. It is a fluctuating process where the person can be doing well one day but not the next. Having had a previous concussion increases the chance a person will have a delayed recovery.

MYTH: There is nothing a person can do to prevent a concussion.

FACT: Although not all concussions can be prevented, there are steps you can take to decrease the risk of sustaining one or reducing the severity of a potential concussion.

Promote: Fair play
Behaviour and attitude have a major impact on concussion causing incidents. You can encourage fair play by modelling respect and sportsmanship in the presence of others.

Encourage: Support concussion reporting
People will often hide symptoms of concussion because they don’t want to fall behind or disappoint their parents, coaches, and/or teammates. Supporting a positive environment for reporting concussion symptoms sooner can make the biggest difference in preventing more serious concussion outcomes and associated risks.

Awareness: Educating yourself and others
Learning about concussions helps to understand how serious a concussion can be. It also provides the tools to recognize and report a concussion if suspected. An informed person is more likely to follow the guidelines during the recovery process.


Athletes Guidelines for Concussions

Coaches & Trainer Guidelines for Concussions

Concussion Recognition Tool

Parents & Caregivers Guidelines for Concussions

Return to Play Guidelines for Concussions

Pocket Guide for Concussions

NCPP Concussion Sports Training Module

See also Dr. Tyler Fletcher of Cobblestone Medicine Rehab for Baseline Concussion Testing