Diagnosis and On-Field Management of Sports-Related Concussion

  • Lucas T. Buchler
  • Martin Boublik


Sports-related concussion (SRC) is difficult to diagnose and treat. The definition of the injury is broad, and no definitive diagnostic tools are available. As such, clinical evaluation remains the gold standard for diagnosing SRC. Timely diagnosis of SRC and removal from play are vital due to the deleterious effects of subsequent trauma. Planning and preparation are of the utmost importance in managing SRC, and it is essential to develop a formal head trauma evaluation and management policy prior to any practice or competition. A robust educational program is important for athletes and all personnel involved in sport. The clinical evaluation of an athlete who has sustained a head and/or neck trauma is made up of three components: primary survey or on-field evaluation, secondary survey or sideline evaluation, and tertiary survey or locker room/training room evaluation. The primary survey serves to rule out any immediate life-threatening injuries that may prevent the athlete from safely being transported to the sideline. The secondary survey entails a focused evaluation for any signs of acute or evolving neurologic injury. Any positive or concerning findings during the primary and/or secondary surveys warrant removal from the sideline and a tertiary survey including a complete neurological examination and the application of selected head/neck injury-specific evaluation tools. If there is any concern that the athlete may have sustained a concussion, he or she should be deemed unsafe to return to play, and the team’s concussion protocol should be initiated.


Concussion Sports injury Mild traumatic brain injury On-field evaluation Head trauma 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas T. Buchler
    • 1
  • Martin Boublik
    • 1
  1. 1.Steadman-Hawkins Clinic–DenverGreenwood VillageUSA

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