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Recognizing Sport Related Concussions

By Minnesota Hockey, 10/04/19, 10:45AM CDT


When it comes to player safety, one of the most important tools for players, coaches, officials and parents is the ability to recognize sport related concussions.

Most injuries that occur are fairly easy to spot and judge the severity. Concussions can be much harder to recognize though because they manifest in many different ways and rarely result in loss of consciousness or other easily noticed signs.

Yet, removing players immediately who are suspected of a concussion is of critical importance so participants must be vigilant when it comes to potential concussions.  Incurring multiple concussions without a full recovery can have dangerous and long-term consequences.

USA Hockey encourages participants to be cognizant of the mechanism of injury, which is often a blow to the head, neck or body, and check for the signs and symptoms below when trying to recognize a potential concussion. And when in doubt, sit them out!


  • Headache
  • “Pressure in head”
  • Neck Pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating/remembering
  • “Don’t feel right”
  • Sensitivity to light/noise
  • More emotional or irritable
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Feeling like “in a fog”
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Confusion
  • Sadness
  • Nervous or anxious

Observable Signs:

  • Lying motionless on the playing surface
  • Slow to get up after a direct or indirect hit to the head
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Inability or slow to respond appropriately to questions
  • Blank or vacant look
  • Slow movement or incoordination
  • Balance or walking difficulty
  • Facial injury after head trauma

If you suspect a player has a concussion, remove him/her from play immediately and notify the parent(s) or guardian(s). The player should not be left alone after the injury and should be monitored over the initial few hours after injury for changes or worsening of symptoms. The player should be evaluated by a qualified health care provider, proceed through a graduated return to play protocol and complete the Minnesota Hockey Concussion Reporting and Medical Clearance to Return to Play form.

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