On-field management and return-to-play in sports-related concussion in children: Are children managed appropriately?

Harini P. Haran, Silvia Bressan, Ed Oakley, Gavin A. Davis, Vicki Anderson, Franz E Babl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: On-field management and return-to-play guidelines aim to ensure the identification and appropriate management of the concussed athlete. Compliance with current guidelines in many settings is unknown. We assessed whether key components of current concussion guidelines are being followed in child athletes. Design: Prospective observational study. Methods: Data were collected from children (5-18 years) presenting to a paediatric emergency department with sport-related concussion via researcher-administered surveys in the emergency department and during a follow up phone call. On hospital discharge all patients received a return to sports fact sheet based on the International Concussion in Sports Group. Results: Ninety-three had sustained a concussion (mean age 12.7 (±0.27) years, 83% male). Sports played included Australian Football (47%), soccer (12%), rugby (9%) basketball (8%), other (25%). 82% participated in organised sports. Concussive signs or symptoms included loss of consciousness (41%), disorientation (36%), vomiting (23%), amnesia (30%), headache (60%). For concussive injury in organised sports (= 76), overall 42% were not managed according to recommended guidelines: 19% were not immediately removed from play, 29% were allowed to return to play on the same day and 27% were not assessed by qualified personnel. 93% of parents and 96% of patients were unaware of concussion or return-to-play guidelines from their organisations. Overall, 72% were compliant with provided return-to-play guidelines. Conclusions: Many children with sports related-concussion are not formally assessed on-field and continue to play. On-field concussion management and return to play practices are often suboptimal. Awareness and education of coaches, teachers, parents and children need to be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Child
  • Concussion
  • Head injury
  • Return to play
  • Sport
  • Traumatic brain injury

Cite this