Concussion Management


The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK calls for the key messages of concussion management to be understood and implemented across the NHS and at all professional and non professional sporting events for athletes of all ages.

Concussion is recognised to be one of the most challenging of sports injuries to diagnose, assess and manage. There is no single diagnostic test, and assessment of the athlete, in whom concussive injury is suspected, involves a multi-modal assessment of a number of key domains.

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK’s 7 key messages for the management of concussion in sport at all levels:

  • The critical importance of recognising and removing the athlete suspected of concussion from play for a structured assessment by a medical practitioner
  • That athletes in whom concussion is confirmed should not return to play the same day
  • The principle of monitoring a concussed player’s progress through a graduated return to play protocol, only once the player is symptom free
  • That medical clearance from a licensed healthcare professional is sought before a return to play
  • The shortest return to play currently recommended for an adult athlete is six days. This can only occur if the athlete is asymptomatic the day after the concussive event and progresses uneventfully through the graduated return to play
  • A Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine with expertise in concussion management is uniquely placed to co-ordinate the care of the athlete who has suffered a concussion
  • A more conservative approach to the management of the younger age group player should be adopted by sporting organisations

Best practice clinical pathways from injury to return to play for the concussed player outside of the elite sports setting are not easily accessible in the UK. A Consultant in Sport and Exercise is well placed to develop this locally in collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

The Faculty will be working with its Members and Fellows to raise awareness about concussion management and, together with other sporting organisations and national governing bodies, look to align standards of concussion management.

The Faculty believes that best practice concussion management should be adopted without restriction.

©Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK – Concussion Management published November 2013 to be reviewed 2018

View the International Rugby Board’s guidelines for on-field concussion

View FSEM (UK) supported Concussion Guidelines for the Education Sector

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