Recommendations for grading of concussion in athletes

Sports Med. 2001;31(8):629-36. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200131080-00007.


Mild sports-related concussions, in which there is no loss of consciousness, account for >75% of all sports-related brain injury. Universal agreement on concussion definition and severity grading does not exist. Grading systems represent expertise of clinicians and researchers yet scientific evidence is lacking. Most used loss of consciousness and post-traumatic amnesia as markers for grading concussion. Although in severe head injury these parameters may have been proven important for prognosis, no study has done the same for sport-related concussion. Post-concussion symptoms are often the main features to help in the diagnosis of concussion in sport. Neuropsychological testing is meant to help physicians and health professionals to have objective indices of some of the neurocognitive symptoms. It is the challenge of physicians, therapists and coaches involved in the care of athletes to know the symptoms of concussion, recognise them when they occur and apply basic neuropsychological testing to help detect this injury. It is, therefore, recommended to be familiar with one grading system and use it consistently, even though it may not be scientifically validated. Then good clinical judgement and the ability to recognise post-concussion signs and symptoms will assure that an athlete never returns to play while symptomatic.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / classification*
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / classification*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Injury, Chronic / classification
  • Brain Injury, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Coma, Post-Head Injury
  • Confusion
  • Hockey / injuries
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sports Medicine / instrumentation*
  • Sports Medicine / standards
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Unconsciousness