Concussion guidelines



Summary principles of GAA Concussion Management Guidelines

– Concussion is a brain injury that needs to be taken seriously to protect the long term welfare of all players
– Any player suspected of having sustained a concussion, should be removed immediately from the field and should not return to play on the same day
– Where a Team Doctor is present, he should advise the person in charge of the team i.e. the Team Manager, in this regard and the player must not be allowed to continue his participation in the game
– Concussion is an evolving injury therefore it is important to monitor the player after the injury for progressive deterioration
– Concussion diagnosis is a clinical judgement – Use of the SCAT 3 can aid the doctor in his /her diagnosis
– Players suspected of having a concussion, must have adequate rest of at least 24 hours and then must follow a Gradual Return to Play Protocol.
– Players must receive medical clearance (by a doctor) before returning to play


Poster available at:



E-Learning Module on Concussion Awareness

The GAA’s Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee has devised an e-Learning module which aims to help players, coaches and parents recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion and understand the principles of managing the injury.  The module will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and there is a quiz at the end.



  1. Click on the below link
  2. Check to ensure that pop-ups are unblocked (Unblock pop-ups)NB – The module will not open if pop-ups are not unblocked.


Signs and Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, most concussion injuries occur without a loss of consciousness and so it is important to recognise the other signs and symptoms of concussion.  A symptom is something a player will feel whilst a sign is something a team-mate or coach will notice.

A player may experience: A coach/parent/team-mate/referee may notice a player:
– Headache or Pressure – Appears Dazed or Stunned
– Nausea – Is Confused about Position
– Balance or Dizziness problems – Forgets an Instruction
– Double or Blurry Vision – Unsure of Game Details
– Sensitivity to Light/Noise – Moves Clumsily
– Feeling Sluggish/Hazy/Groggy – Answers Questions Slowly
– Concentration/Memory Problems – Loses Consciousness (even briefly)
– Confusion – Shows Mood/Behaviour/Personality Change
– Does not ‘Feel Right’ or ‘Feeling “Down” – Forgets Events ‘Prior’ to or ‘After’ Hit or Fall
– Nothing!!


Suspect concussion if one or more visible cues, signs, symptoms or errors in memory questions are present.


Return to Play Protocol

– A player with a diagnosed concussion should never be allowed to return to play on the day of injury
– Return to play must follow a medically supervised stepwise approach and a player should never return to play while symptomatic

– The full Gradual Return to Play Protocol can be viewed by clicking here




Action Plan for Players

– Recognise the signs and symptoms

Report if suspicious, don’t hide it

Rehab with rest and medical guidance

Return after following Return To Play Protocol and getting medical clearance
A concussion is a brain injury that is associated with a temporary loss of brain function. The injury must be taken seriously to protect the long term welfare of all
players. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.

Most concussion injuries occur without a loss of consciousness and so it is important to recognise the other signs and symptoms of concussion. Some symptoms develop immediately while other symptoms may appear gradually over time.
 Loss of consciousness
 Headache
 Seizure or convulsion  Dizziness
 Balance problems  Confusion
 Nausea or vomiting  Feeling slowed down
 Drowsiness  “Pressure in head”
 More emotional  Blurred vision
 Irritability  Sensitivity to light
 Sadness  Amnesia
 Fatigue or low energy  Feeling like “in a fog“
 Nervous or anxious  Neck Pain
 “Don’t feel right”  Sensitivity to noise
 Difficulty
 Difficulty
“Presence of any one or more of the above signs and symptoms may suggest a concussion”
Recognise – the symptoms and signs
Remove – the player if suspicious and refer to a doctor
Reiterate – key messages
1. Take time to recover
2. Follow a medically supervised Graduated Return to Play Protocol (GRTP)
3. Seek medical clearance before returning
A player’s brain needs time to heal after a concussion.
When a player’s brain is still healing, it is more likely to receive another concussion. Repeat concussions
can increase the time it takes to recover and in rare cases, repeat concussions in young players can result
in brain swelling or permanent damage to their brain.
They can even be fatal.
The following are some tips for coping with a concussion:
The best medical management for concussion is rest (Cognitive and Physical). Players often feel tired and
may experience difficulties at work or school when carrying at task which require concentration. Players
may also encounter mood difficulties and feel depressed, anxious or irritable with family or team
mates. Support should be provided to players during this recovery period.


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