Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado
Managing Concussions

Developed by experts from Colorado’s health systems. Learn more

BIAC facilitates a group of concussion experts who have developed this online content as well as an in-person training. If you would like to request a training for your staff, please fill out this form.

Diagnosis of Concussion

  • Was there a witnessed or suspected direct blow to the head or a blow elsewhere on the body with an ‘impulsive’ force transmitted to the head?
  • Are there acute signs and/or symptoms of concussion?

Be sure to review Red Flag Warnings (right column)

Concussion-Focused Clinical Exam

  • Thorough history: Injury specifics, subsequent injury course, and clinical history including prior concussions or other TBI, which might require specialty referral. (see below)
  • Examination: Neurological exam as well as standardized evaluation of post-concussive symptoms, balance, and cognition. Consideration should also be given to autonomic, oculomoter and vestibular exams. (Note: Imaging is unlikely to provide diagnostic information for concussive injuries.)

Find more resources here.

Be sure to review Red Flag Warnings (right column)

Acute Concussion Management

  • Provide education, reassurance and resources (e.g., what to look out for and what to expect for parents & schools)
  • Encourage initial period of rest (some hours to a few days) until patient is able to tolerate light cognitive activity.
  • Remove from physical activities until all concussion-related problems resolve (e.g., organized sports, physical education, physical play at recess, recreational sports) If asymptomatic review the following step entitled "Have all of the following occurred?".
  • After the initial rest period, encourage steady progressive return to school (with academic adjustments as needed) as long as symptoms do not significantly worsen. Academic and home adjustments should account for cognitive and physical rest to assist in recovery.

Be sure to review Red Flag Warnings (right column)

Return to School (right column)

Home Instructions (right column)

Have all the following occurred?

  • Concussion symptoms resolved (per school, student and parent).
  • Clinical exam is normal.
  • No longer requiring medication for management of concussion symptoms.
  • No longer requiring academic adjustments.

If YES, please proceed to Graduated Return to Play

If NO, consider Referring to a Specialist (see right column)

Graduated Return to Play

With this stepwise progression, the athlete should continue to proceed to the next step if free of symptoms at the current step. There should be a 24 hour period between each step. If any symptoms reoccur, the athlete should drop back to the previous step and try to progress again after 24 hours of rest. This progression should be routinely monitored by an appropriate health care provider with final CLEARANCE being made by such provider.
(Modified from Zurich Guidelines 2012)

  • Light aerobic exercise such as brisk walking or stationary cycling for 15-20 minutes.
  • Sport specific exercise such as skating in hockey or dribbling in soccer with minimal resistance from other players for 30-45 minutes.
  • Non-contact practice with the addition of resistance such as blocking pads in football for 1-2 hours.
  • Full contact practice. An example would be full pads and contact in hockey or football practice.
  • Competitive gameplay including tournaments.

Colorado Youth Concussion Education Consortium

The mission of the Colorado Youth Concussion Education Consortium is to promote thorough, consistent, and empirically-based concussion education for the diagnosis and management of youth concussions.

Developed by experts from Colorado’s health system:

  •  Centura Health
  •  Children’s Hospital of Colorado
  •  Colorado Mountain Medical
  •  Craig Hospital
  •  Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children
  •  Western Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Funding sources for this project:

  • Education Grant from the Colorado Brain Injury Program
  • Grant from the COPIC Medical Foundation