Infographic: After Concussion, When Can Athletes Return to Play?

Infographic: After Concussion, When Can Athletes Return to Play?

Getting back on the court or field as quickly as possible is the goal of most concussion-sustaining athletes. Getting athletes back on the field or court safely once they are completely recovered is the goal of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

The following infographic explains the factors that go into determining if a concussed athlete is cleared to return to play.

Return-to-play decisions are an important aspect of concussion management and should take into consideration all aspects of the concussion diagnosis and recovery period:

Athletes should be thoroughly evaluated by experienced clinicians trained in concussion management.

Symptoms during exertion
Athletes should not be returned to play until they are symptom free with both physical and cognitive exertion.

Symptoms at rest and during non-contact exertion
Athletes should have no symptoms while resting and during non-contact exertion. Athletes returning to play should be progressed through increasing amounts of non-contact physical exertion and non-contact sport-specific training.

Neurocognitive functioning
Athletes’ ImPACT testing scores should return to baseline levels.*

Vestibular/Ocular-Motor Screening (VOMS)
Athletes should be able to pass this brief screening test of vestibular/ocular-motor functioning.*

As with establishing a diagnosis of concussion, comprehensive symptom assessment and individualized treatment plans are crucial to determining whether an athlete is fully recovered and can return to play.

*On a case by case basis, more thorough evaluations of neurocognitive and vestibular/ocular-motor functioning may need to occur in some athletes.