Thorough and continuous evaluation and proper treatment are critical. Medical clearance is required before an athlete can return to sport, and that return is based on our assessment of the symptoms. When symptoms are at zero, a decision is made regarding return to sport. If the decision is in favor of athletic resumption, the athlete begins a five-phase monitored process:
- Light cardio
- Cardio with lifting
- More intense cardio with lifting
- Integration of sport practice into training
- Contact exposure
If no symptoms are present before, during and after activity, the athlete is expected to have recovered from concussion.
In 90 percent of cases, most symptoms of concussion normalize in seven to 10 days. Prolonged or recurring symptoms, or decline in cognitive, memory and emotional function (depression or anxiety) may be a sign of chronic postconcussive syndrome. If so, the person should not return to sport. Returning to sport while symptomatic from a concussion can cause additional injury such as second impact syndrome, which can lead to serious consequences, including permanent brain injury and even death. Thorough and continuous evaluation and proper treatment are critical.
In the state of Ohio, there are very specific legal guidelines regarding return to play. Coaches, referees or officials must remove an athlete from play if the athlete is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a concussion during practice or a game. Athletes cannot return the same day they are removed and are not permitted to return to play until they've been assessed and receive written clearance by a physician or other licensed healthcare provider approved by the school or organization.