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How to Treat a Sports Related Concussion

Barry Wilkes provides an overview of the treatment process for head injuries.

Any athlete who suffers a head injury must stop any activity they are indulging in and retire from play for the day. Otherwise, they risk brain damage by returning to full training before the brain has been given a chance to recover and return to normal functioning. A concussion is a severe injury that sportspeople, coaches, and trainers need to be aware of to ensure no risk to the player's career as well as their well-being. Most concussions are resolved in a short time, around a week to ten days. The period may, however, be longer for adolescents and children. The brain is susceptible and more vulnerable to damage at this time, so the date of return to play must be decided by a medical professional alone.

How the Severity of a Concussion is Determined

This changes from case to case, but the common factors all doctors look for are the immediate symptoms, medical history, previous concussions, use of medicines, ability to keep balance, pay attention, remember and learn things, and so on. Based on these, as well as the type of sport and the player's position, they can decide when he should return. You can use medicine to reduce the symptoms, but that is not analogous to healing the concussion itself. The athlete must also go off medication and see how they can function to check if they are fit again.

The Treatment Process

The most important thing when it comes to healing a concussion is rest and respite from mental and physical exertion. Following that, the return to play concussion treatment process is gradual and stage-wise, as follows.

  • No activity, complete rest.
  • Indulging in a light aerobic activity like walking, mild exercise, and swimming. At each step, you must ensure the heart rate is less than 70% of the maximum. No resistance training.
  • Exercise-related to the sport, ranging from skating and running drills to stretching and swimming. No head impact must be ensured.
  • Non-contact drills and training. Light resistance training can also be included, and the athlete can move on to more complex training like passing.
  • Full contact practice: After the doctor has agreed that they are indeed fully healed, the athlete can return to full-scale training with the rest of the team, if any.
  • The final step is returning to play after a few successful training sessions.

At every level, the sportsman must have at least 24 hours of symptom-free time before moving to the next step in this process. If there is any regression, they must prolong the current stage. The recovery time will be longer for subsequent concussions, which is why you must be transparent about your medical history with your doctor.


The irritation of being bedridden, and the charm of returning early is not lost on anyone, but this is extremely dangerous and must be avoided. A second injury within a few days could have serious repercussions ranging from prolonged symptoms, long-term brain disorders, and even death due to severe brain swelling. A medical professional must always approve your return.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • WILKES, B. (2017) How to Treat a Sports Related Concussion [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Barry Wilkes is a sports trainer and has been a professional sportsman and coach for over three decades. He has taken to blogging as well to help players and coaches understand the process of intensive training, return to play, concussion treatment, and so on.