Concussion - Second Impact Syndrome

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Tim Strahan

March 16, 2021


The most recent international consensus statement on concussion, in sport, recommends immediate removal from play for any athlete that has sustained a suspected concussion. Any player that is removed from the field is only eligible to return to the field once they have been confidently cleared of any concussion injury.

The fact that this is done in the interest of player safety is fairly common knowledge, but what might not be, is exactly what we are risking when we allow players to return too early; Second Impact Syndrome.

Second Impact Syndrome is classified as a concussion which has been sustained prior to the full recovery of a previous concussion. As we have spoken about, in previous concussive symptoms can often resolve within 8-10 days, but full recovery can often take 21-28 days, or even longer. This means that not only are athletes at risk when returning to play without proper clearance on the same day, but are also at risk when returning potentially months later, if they have not completely recovered.

In the event of a concussion sustained prior to the complete recovery of an initial concussion, the resulting symptoms can vary in their severity. On the milder end of the scale, people may sustain a secondary concussion with or without an immediate exacerbation of their symptoms, but will have to undergo a prolonged recovery period. In rarer cases, there is true Second Impact Syndrome, whereby the control of blood flow to the brain is altered, leading to catastrophic swelling which may result in serious neurological deficits, or even death.

Fortunately, true Second Impact Syndrome with these severe outcomes are rare. However, unfortunately, we do not yet have a way to accurately predict the outcome of a secondary concussion. It is not simply a matter of two "severe" concussions in succession of each other, with evidence that even mild concussions can result in true Second Impact Syndrome'; therefore, any early return to sport carries, with it, an inherent risk.

It is, for this reason, why we, at The Sports Injury Clinic, strongly advocate for full and proper measures to be taken in the event you, a loved one, or an athlete under your care sustains a concussion. Our partnership with Complete Concussion Management International allows us to keep up to date with all of the latest research and developments to ensure the best quality of care for our patients. If you have any concerns or want tan appointment, please call us at 9783 9990 or book online.


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