Recognize & Remove

Concussion should be suspected if one or more of the following visible clues, signs, symptoms or errors in memory questions are present.

1. Visible clues of suspected concussion

Any one or more of the following visual clues can indicate a possible concussion:

  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
  • Lying motionless on ground / Slow to get up
  • Unsteady on feet / Balance problems or falling over / Incoordination
  • Grabbing / Clutching of head
  • Dazed, blank or vacant look
  • Confused / Not aware of plays or events

2. Signs and symptoms of suspected concussion

Presence of any one or more of the following signs & symptoms may suggest a concussion:

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

3. Memory Function

Failure to answer any of these questions correctly may suggest a concussion.

  • “What venue are we at today?”
  • “Which half is it now?”
  • “Who scored last in this game?”
  • “What team did you play last week / game?”
  • “Did your team win the last game?”

Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY, and should not be returned to activity until they are assessed medically. Athletes with a suspected concussion should not be left alone and should not drive a motor vehicle.

It is recommended that, in all cases of suspected concussion, the player is referred to a medical professional for diagnosis and guidance as well as return to play decisions, even if the symptoms resolve.

Red Flags

If ANY of the following are reported then the player should be safely and immediately removed from the field. If no qualified medical professional is available, consider transporting by ambulance for urgent medical assessment:

  • Athlete complains of neck pain
  • Increasing confusion or irritability
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Weakness or tingling / burning in arms or legs
  • Deteriorating conscious state
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Unusual behaviour change
  • Double vision


  • In all cases, the basic principles of first aid (danger, response, airway, breathing, circulation) should be followed.
  • Do not attempt to move the player (other than required for airway support) unless trained to do so.
  • Do not remove helmet (if present) unless trained to do so.

from McCrory et. al, Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport. Br J Sports Med 47 (5), 2013

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