Concussion Avoidance

Every swimmer can respond to a brain injury differently.  Knowing the signs and symptoms related to a concussion will allow you to treat the injury before it progresses to something more serious.

What is a Concussion?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a concussion "a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works." Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth.

Signs & Symptoms

Athletes do not have to be "knocked out" to have a concussion.  Less than 10% of all concussions result in a loss of consciousness.  Symptoms can develop instantly or up to 48 hours after the injury occurred. 

Signs Observed

  • Athlete appears dazed, stunned or confused
  • Unsure about event details
  • Forgets an instruction or assignment
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior or personality changes
  • Cannot recall events before or after the incident


Symptoms Reported

  • Any headache or "pressure" in the head - severity of pain does not matter
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Sleeping more or less than usual


Seeking Medical Attention

If you suspect that you have a concussion, seeking medical attention on the day of the incident is important.  Only a health care professional will be able to determine when you are ready to return to swimming.  Returning to swimming too early may cause Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) or Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) both of which can cause permanent, long-term symptoms.

Returning to Swimming

Each individual will return to the pool at a different speed.  California law requires that a swimmer receive wirtten approval from a healthcare professional before they are allowed to return to practice.  Before returning make sure that all of your child's coaches are aware that your child has suffered a concussion.  When returning to practice, the swimmer should not return to full practice immediately; the swimmer should complete a step-by-step exercise-based progression.

Concussion Information

Concussion Information for Swimmers & Parents

USAS Operational Risk Committee - Consensus Statement on Concussions

Concussion Recognition and Managment