A concussion can be difficult to recognize on the field, especially if a player doesn’t lose consciousness. Don’t forget that concussions can happen without obvious signs of a head injury! In order to help coaches, referees, parents, and players correctly identify signs of a concussion, we’ve put together a guide to help you determine your next step.
If a player gets hit in the head or even body through contact with the ball, the ground, or another player, keep an eye out for the following changes in their behavior.
Feeling dazed and confused about what just happened
Inability to recognize familiar people and places
Short attention span
Behavior patterns change; even a change in sleep
Increasing confusion or irritability
Coordination skills are off: dizziness, clumsiness, reaction time, and balancing
Spine or neck injury or pain
Ringing noise or sound sensitivity
Worsening headaches, nausea, or vomiting
Weakness or numbness in arms or legs
The Next Step
If the player has a concussion but doesn’t require emergency treatment, pay careful attention for the next 1-2 hours, returning 5-10 minutes to monitor the previously listed characteristics. If you have any doubt about whether or not the player has a concussion, remove them from the field immediately. It’s best to immediately seek out a healthcare professional rather than attempting to assess the injury yourself!
Fill out a concussion notification form in duplicate; a team official from the player’s team must sign it, and if the player is able to do so, they must sign and date it. If that is not the case, sign “unavailable” on the player’s signature line. The parent or legal guardian must sign as well! If not, the team official must notify them via phone or email and then record how and when they did so.
As your player continues to heal and gets closer to returning to the field, ask them to continue assessing their symptoms for the next few days. This will teach them to monitor their health and stay aware of their progress. Keep in mind that players diagnosed with a possible concussion will not be permitted to play unless a medical doctor or doctor specializing in concussion treatment and management has released them. If you missed it, make sure you check out this episode in which Malia, our Orlando City Youth ambassador, shares her own experience with a concussion from soccer!