The nature and duration of acute concussive symptoms in Australian football

Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Oct;10(4):235-8. doi: 10.1097/00042752-200010000-00002.


Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to document the nature and temporal profile of the clinical symptoms of acute sport-related concussion.

Design: Prospective cohort study

Patient population: A total of 303 elite Australian football players participating in a national competition during a single season.

Outcome measures: Number and duration of symptoms, digit symbol substitution test (DSST) scores, time of return to play post injury.

Results: A total of 23 concussions were recorded over the course of the 20-week football season. No catastrophic head injuries occurred. Headache was the most common symptom and the most persistent, with 40% of players reporting headache symptoms lasting more than 15 minutes. Ten of the players (43%) returned to sport on the day of the injury with the remainder resuming play within 2 weeks. A low likelihood of return to play on the day of injury was found where 3 or more symptoms were present or where the symptoms lasted more than 15 minutes. These findings were significantly correlated with poor DSST performance.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that both the number of postconcussive symptoms and their duration may be used as a measure of injury severity and a guide for return to play.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology
  • Brain Concussion / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Soccer / injuries*