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Summary principles of GAA Concussion Management Guidelines

- Concussion is a brain injury that needs to be taken seriously to protect the long term welfare of all players
- Any player suspected of having sustained a concussion, should be removed immediately from the field and should not return to play on the same day
- Where a Team Doctor is present, he should advise the person in charge of the team i.e. the Team Manager, in this regard and the player must not be allowed to continue his participation in the game
- Concussion is an evolving injury therefore it is important to monitor the player after the injury for progressive deterioration
- Concussion diagnosis is a clinical judgement – Use of the SCAT 3 can aid the doctor in his /her diagnosis
- Players suspected of having a concussion, must have adequate rest of at least 24 hours and then must follow a Gradual Return to Play Protocol.
- Players must receive medical clearance (by a doctor) before returning to play

 Concussion Poster 2015

Poster available at:

2nd National Concussion Symposium - Saturday October 7th 2017, Croke Park

Building on the success of last year's inaugural event, Bon Secours Health System and UPMC, a leader in concussion treatment worldwide, have come together with the GAA to present Ireland's second National Concussion Symposium, which will take place at Croke Park on October 7th, 2017.

Leading concussion experts from UPMC in the United States, Bon Secours Health System in Ireland and sporting figures from the GAA will join together for another ground breaking symposium which will share nationally the best practices, protocols and treatment of concussion available at present. 

For further information on this event see:

Concussion E-Learning Course

The GAA’s Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee has devised an e-Learning module which aims to help players, coaches and parents recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion and understand the principles of managing the injury.  The module will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and there is a quiz at the end.



1. Click on the below link

2. Check to ensure that pop-ups are unblocked (Unblock pop-ups) NB - The module will not open if pop-ups are not unblocked.


Signs and Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, most concussion injuries occur without a loss of consciousness and so it is important to recognise the other signs and symptoms of concussion.  A symptom is something a player will feel whilst a sign is something a team-mate or coach will notice.

A player may experience:

A coach/parent/team-mate/referee may notice a player:

- Headache or Pressure

- Appears Dazed or Stunned

- Nausea

- Is Confused about Position

- Balance or Dizziness problems

- Forgets an Instruction

- Double or Blurry Vision

- Unsure of Game Details

- Sensitivity to Light/Noise

- Moves Clumsily

- Feeling Sluggish/Hazy/Groggy

- Answers Questions Slowly

- Concentration/Memory Problems

- Loses Consciousness (even briefly)

- Confusion

- Shows Mood/Behaviour/Personality Change

- Does not ‘Feel Right’ or ‘Feeling “Down”

- Forgets Events ‘Prior’ to or ‘After’ Hit or Fall

- Nothing!!


Suspect concussion if one or more visible cues, signs, symptoms or errors in memory questions are present.

Return to Play Protocol

- A player with a diagnosed concussion should never be allowed to return to play on the day of injury
- Return to play must follow a medically supervised stepwise approach and a player should never return to play while symptomatic


The most important aspect of concussion management is physical and cognitive rest until the acute symptoms resolve and then a graded program of exertion prior to medical clearance and return to play (RTP).

1.    There should be an initial period of 24-48 hours rest for adult players post a concussive injury.

2.    There should be a two week rest period for players up to the age of 18

3.    RTP protocols following concussion follow a stepwise approach. With this stepwise progression, the players should continue to proceed to the next level if asymptomatic at the current level.

4.    Generally each step should take 24 hours so that the athlete would take approximately one week to proceed to full rehabilitation once they are asymptomatic at rest.

5.    If any post-concussion symptoms occur while in the RTP program, then the player should drop back to the previous asymptomatic level and try to progress again after a further 24 hours period of rest has passed.



Medical clearance (medical clearance refers to medical doctors) is required prior to return to full contact sports.






Action Plan for Players

Recognise the signs and symptoms

- Report if suspicious, don't hide it

- Rehab with rest and medical guidance

- Return after following Return To Play Protocol and getting medical clearance



Other Resources


Concussion Management Guidelines 2013-2016

Concussion SCAT 3 - Medical Professional Use Only

Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool

Information Sheet for Players

Information Sheet for Players (Age 5 -18)

Information Sheet for Coaches/Parents

Information Sheet for Referees