Understanding Concussion Management and Tracking Return to Play Compliance

It’s essential that coaches and organizations understand concussion management to ensure athlete’s safe return-to-play (RTP). Each year, 300,000 youth athletes suffer a concussion. Additionally, a shocking 50% of all concussions go unreported, meaning that many more occur - almost 4 million. It begs the question, why are concussions so severely underreported? The likely culprit is the lack of knowledge of concussions symptoms and treatment, and lack of coach reporting guidance. 

Concussion law states that only healthcare providers can provide RTP clearance, however, coaches too should be equipped with proper concussion education and documentation guidance to support athletes and ultimately, decrease long term consequences following a concussion. One study surveyed 600 high school sports coaches and found that a majority of coaches were unaware of age-related differences in concussion risk and recovery and that the largest knowledge gap lies in concussion management. By prioritizing concussion education, coaches can more effectively identify concussion symptoms and increase athlete adherence to RTP guidelines. 

Studies show that less than 50% of high school athletes report their concussions. Even at the professional level, athletes strive to stay in the game at all costs, sometimes at their own detriment. Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion came just days after he suffered an apparent head injury, laying motionless for minutes but was allowed to remain in the game. As a result of concussion protocol and his coaches advocacy, education and diligence, Tagovailoa sought out medical care, was diagnosed with a concussion and removed from play. Tagovailoa’s injury is a paramount example of one athlete’s drive to remain in the game and a caregivers’ duty to step in, follow protocol and protect their athletes.

By documenting athlete concussions, signs, symptoms and treatments with electronic documentation platforms like InjureFree, youth sport coaches help ensure that athletes safely return-to-play and help prevent avoidable consequences. When coaches track concussions, they obtain infallible evidence regarding athlete’s injury status and support more effective decision making regarding athlete care.

Click here to learn more about Heads Up free online concussion education and here for more about InjureFree.



  1. A coach's guide to concussions. Nationwide Children's Hospital. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/concussion-clinic/concussion-toolkit/a-coachs-guide-to-concussions
  2. Feiss RS, Lutz M, Moody JR, Pangelinan MM. A systematic review of coach and parent knowledge of concussion. Journal of Concussion. 2020;4. doi:10.1177/2059700219900053
  3. Robinson, B. (2016, March 16). Return to play: Who makes the decision? NFHS. Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://www.nfhs.org/articles/return-to-play-who-makes-the-decision/

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