Prevention

To develop or maintain a healthy and safe environment, organizations, activity supervisors (health professionals, trainers, referees, teachers, supervisors, coaches, facilitators, etc.) and the participants (students, athletes, players, etc.) need to adopt a preventive approach before an incident occurs.

To do this, follow the procedure suggested below:

Nature of the risk

Identify the risks associated with the activity. These can usually be divided into four types: falls or collisions with objects or a teammate, collisions with an opponent, authorized physical contact and authorized hits to the head (e.g. certain combat sports). The identification of these risks alone does not determine the safety level of the activity. 

Analysis of the risk

Research the activity and analyze the risk of concussion involved. Moreover, periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the associated preventive measures by considering:

  • the environment (facilities, playgrounds, shared equipment, etc.)
  • personal equipment (current standards, protective equipment, etc.)
  • supervision (rules of the game, severity of penalties, safety guidelines, supervision, first aid services, officiating, etc.)
  • behaviour and attitudes of the participants (prerequisites for participating, respect for the rules of the game and the safety guidelines, respect for the capabilities of the participants, sportsmanship, etc.)

Guiding principles to consider

Verify if the situation is satisfactory or if preventive measures should be added to reduce the number or severity of concussions. If this is the case, it is vital to consider the following elements:

  • the preventive measures used are the ones best adapted to the problem and the context
  • they allow for concrete intervention and recognized effectiveness 
  • they involve partners qualified to multiply the effect of the actions 
  • they should change the nature of the activity as little as possible
  • they are athletically, socially and economically viable

Planning and organization

While planning a season or an activity, be sure to:

  • implement a concussion management protocol
  • designate a person to be responsible for health, well-being and safety of participants
  • raise awareness and inform participants and parents using various methods (risk acceptance waiver, annual meeting, brochure, video)
  • know as much as possible about the participants’ history and prior incidents involving concussions 
  • train the staff who supervise the activity and ensure they understand  their respective roles
  • establish a monitoring system to collect information on these types of injuries, as resources permit

Supervision during the activity

Everyone involved is responsible for supervising the participants. Remove a participant or advise those in authority to do so if there is any indication of a sign, symptom, impact or violent head movement that may have caused a concussion, or if there is any doubt concerning the information provided by the participant, or based on his or her history of concussions. You can find all the necessary information in the Concussion Management Protocol and the tracking sheet.