The support staff surrounding an athlete can vary, but usually includes the following elements: a school or sports association; coaches; parents; volunteers; a medical team; referees; managers. During a sports activity, the primary role of the medical staff is to ensure the health and safety of all participants, however, each member of the support staff plays an important role in injury prevention, including concussions. Therefore, we would like to present the first of a series of articles regarding the role of the support staff, beginning with: the coach's role in identifying and managing a concussion.
In all sports, the coach, as an educator, has an important role in athlete development. The coach provides structured support to athletes as a mentor and educator, and this close proximity to athletes allows them to play an important role as a C.O.A.C.H. in concussion identification and management :
- A.ctivities (Safety)
- H.istory (Medical)
C.ollaboration with the support staff
Ask your sports association what measures have been taken to identify and manage concussions. Research and clinical recommendations on mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are constantly evolving; it is important that the association revise their procedures/protocols at least on an annual basis under the guidance of an expert in the field. Do their protocols respect the new Consensus statement on concussions in sport (Berlin, 2016)? If they do not have procedures or protocols in place, please encourage the directors of the association to create a medical committee to allow for adequate injury management of the athletes! An interdisciplinary approach to concussion management will provide a safer environment for your athletes.
The C-CENTRE is a proud partner of different sports associations in the Outaouais region. Please do not hesitate to contact our team with any questions or comments regarding our structured support for your athletes! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
O.bserving concussion signs and symptoms
An estimated 50% of concussions go unreported. A possible explanation for this high rate is: 1) athletes are masking their symptoms in order to remain in the game, and/or 2) athletes are unaware that they are experiencing concussion-related symptoms.
Do you know the signs and symptoms of a concussion? As a coach, your constant presence during practices and games will allow you to observe your athletes for potential signs of a concussion. We often hear of headaches and and dizziness, however, these symptoms are not always present following a concussive impact. Furthermore, it can take up to 48 hours for symptoms to appear!
It is important to note that a rapid assessment following a concussion will favour an optimal return to activities and minimize the risk of potential long-term negative repercussions. Please consult our concussion identification tool and symptom report. Please note that when in doubt or concerned, please refer your athlete to the nearest hospital or contact their family doctor directly. An interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals specialized in concussions should then be consulted for concussion management.
Respecting the rules and regulations minimizes the risk of injury, whether it be by completing a proper tackling technique in football, or respecting the pool-side rules of not running before a swimming lesson. Your athletes must be aware of the rules of play, and understand the importance of respecting them; this not only ensures a safer environment for them, but also for their teammates and their opponents! This learning process must begin with you, their coaches during practices!
NB: Sports equipment, including cycling and football helmets, were not initially created to minimize the risk of concussions. The main role of protective helmets is rather to prevent from severe traumatic brain injuries (skull fractures, cerebral haemorrhages...). However, faulty equipment or equipment that is not properly fitted can increase the risk of injury; for example, ice skates that are not properly laced can increase the risk of falls, or an oversized helmet can decrease the protective characteristics of the helmet design. Please consult the team equipment manager to ensure that your athletes' equipment is appropriate, properly fitted and maintained on a regular basis.
Une prise en charge rapide à la suite d’une commotion cérébrale favorise un retour optimal aux activités cognitives et physiques pour l’athlète. Il est donc d’une importance absolue de communiquer avec l’équipe médicale de votre équipe sportive, ou de référer l’athlète à une équipe interdisciplinaire de professionnels de la santé spécialisés dans la gestion des commotions cérébrales, si votre athlète a des signes ou symptômes d’une commotion cérébrale. Vous avez un rôle important en tant que chef d’équipe de communiquer avec les athlètes et toute l’équipe d’encadrement pour assurer un environnement sécuritaire pour tous.
A rapid assessment following a potential concussion will favour an optimal return to cognitive and physical activities. It is extremely important to communicate with your team medical staff, or to refer your athlete to an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals specialized in the management of concussions, if your athlete has signs or symptoms of a concussion. You have an important role as head of your team to communicate with your athletes and with the support staff to ensure a safe environment for all.
You know the strengths and weaknesses of your athletes, as well as their positions and the best methods to use to motivate your team during an important event. We now ask that you also include your athletes' medical histories to your set of tools; coaches should have quick access to their athletes' medical documentation at all times. In case of an emergency, have the appropriate documentation, including medication, history of injuries/concussions, allergies and emergency contact numbers, is important to protect your athletes.
We recommend that these documents be stored in a binder (in a protected and confidential location) and to have rapid access to them during all practices and games.
NB: With fast and easy access to advice on the internet, it is important to pay particular attention to the sources you obtain your information from. Several medical centres, including the CHEO and the Montreal Children’s Hospital, provide important and valid resources on mTBIs; please be cautious of articles and advice that do not base their information on valid scientific research!
The C-CENTRE team of experts is also available to answer your questions regarding concussions!
Please feel free to contact our team: (819)918-6908 or email@example.com
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