Concussions & head injuries in sport

Whilst practicing sport is generally great for your health, there are some sports that also put you at risk of injury. One of the most serious injuries that can occur when playing a sport is a head injury. Head injuries can be very damaging and must always be taken seriously, even if it does not look serious. There are some occasions when a head injury cannot be perceived from the outside but can still be very serious.

Head injuries in sports can occur in a range of different situations – from being hit by balls to collisions with other players.

What is a concussion? How to detect it?

Concussion can sometimes occur when there is a head injury. It happens when the brain shakes within the skull, resulting in mild damage. It can also be known as minor head injury, mild head injury, or mild traumatic brain injury.

Despite the names, however, concussion can be far from mild, and around 10% of cases of concussion result in a loss of consciousness. You should always have the prospect of concussion in the back of your mind if you or another person has had a head injury.

Some of the symptoms of concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Seeing stars or blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of ‘fogginess’
  •  Memory loss (for things that happened up to 24 hours before the injury)
  • Difficulty concentrating, not being able to think straight
  • Feeling emotional
  • Blacking out

These symptoms will normally happen straight away, but other symptoms can also occur some time after the injury.

These are known as post-concussion syndrome, and (in addition to the above) symptoms can include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness

It is the case that most occurrences of concussion may lead to short-term difficulties, but not affect you long term. It is, however, vital that if you get a head injury, you should get it checked out if you have any concussion concerns.


The most common way that players can get concussion when they are playing cricket is if they are struck by the ball. A cricket ball has the same density as a snooker ball and can do substantial damage if you are hit on the head with it.

Despite players wearing helmets, certain aspects of the game can put you at risk – such as batting, fielding close to the bat, short-pitched bowling, and wicket keeping. It is recommended that anyone who suffers a strike to the head is taken off immediately and medical assistance sought.


Head injuries in football are generally very rare. The majority of head injuries, when they do happen, occur as a result of a clash between two or more players, or a player and the goalposts. The rules, when it comes to head injuries in football, stipulate that the player must be immediately fully assessed and treated.

The referee should stop the match for up to three minutes, and if there are any signs of concussion, the player must be substituted. We are seeing growing evidence relating to the continuous heading of a ball (often travelling at a speed of up to 80mph) in football.

In this case, it is not so much about concussion, but more about the long-term damage that can be done to the brain, creating links to neurological issues such as dementia.

Rugby Union

Rugby union, by its very nature, puts players at a high level of risk of head injury and concussion. That does not mean to say, however, that as a player you should not be protected from these risks.

The RFU has now set rules that ensure that all coaches, players, and officials must now pass concussion training modules. The rules now state that if any player is suspected of having concussion, they must leave the field of play and go through an off-field head injury assessment. The player can be temporarily replaced for the time that the assessment is being carried out.

If a player has suffered from concussion, they must go through a graduated return to play once they are free of their symptoms.

American Football

In a similar way to rugby union, we see a high level of risk of head injury in American football – usually as a result of collisions between players. Head injuries are taken very seriously by the NFL.

During the game, there is specialised staff who are given the task of identifying and diagnosing cases of concussion. Spotters are also available throughout the game, who review videos and can call medical ‘Time-outs’ if they deem it to be necessary.

If someone is suspected of having concussion, the player is removed from the game, assessed, and if found to have concussion, they cannot re-enter the field of play. They will also then go through a graduated return to play.

Sports head injury claims

Although as a sportsperson you will be aware that there is a degree of risk of head injury, you should not be put in any unnecessary danger. There is a duty of care to sports players (and spectators), meaning that if this duty of care is not met, you may be able to make a claim for a head injury that you have incurred whilst playing sport.

You must, however, be able to show that the injury was avoidable and happened as a result of negligent action (or inaction).

When choosing a personal injury solicitor, what should I look for?

Before you start anything, if you have suffered a head injury or concussion, you should seek medical assistance. If you are thinking about making a claim, you should then get in touch with a trusted solicitor who will be able to tell you whether they think that you have a case.

Contact Waldrons Solicitors

Here at Waldrons, we have a team of experienced solicitors who can help you to recover the compensation you deserve if you’ve sustained a personal injury. Contact us today to discuss your circumstances.

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