Concussion awareness

Although many people associate concussions with contact sports, such as football or soccer, a concussion can occur to anyone, of any age, in nearly any setting. Up until recent years, a common response to a blow to the head has been to “shake it off” and continue on with whatever activity led to the head trauma.

Recent studies and advancement in medical technology, however, are shedding light on this common, yet dangerous injury. While many concussions are “mild”, some have the potential to turn deadly. Therefore, all concussions or head injuries need to be taken seriously to protect both your people and your organization.

Concussion awareness

Understanding concussions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a concussion as a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head leading to an interruption of normal brain function”. A TBI can range in severity from “mild” to “severe”, depending on how the person is affected by the injury. Repeated concussions, or a lack of treatment, can cause serious problems such as permanent damage or even death.

Concussions can happen to anyone. In addition to sports or recreational activities, a concussion can occur after a slip and fall in a parking lot, a fall from equipment on a playground, an accident while driving, and much more. In fact, the CDC states that 47% of TBI related emergency room visits in 2013 were a result of a fall.

Data also shows that youth and elderly populations are the most likely to suffer a concussion and that their concussions are also prone to be severe. Therefore, it is highly important for organizations such as houses of worship, schools, camps, senior living facilities, and daycare centers that serve these populations to plan and prepare to address a head injury.

Preventing head injuries

Basic safety precautions can be very impactful in preventing head injuries and protecting people from suffering concussions. These may differ by activity, but start with these tips:

General safety

  • Review walking surfaces and correct slip, trip, and fall hazards indoors and out.
  • Use non-skid mats and caution signs in areas prone to wet floors.
  • Improve lighting in walkways and outside your building.
  • Make sure stairways have proper railings and are clear of obstacles.
  • Draw attention to protrusions or low-hanging obstacles on which someone might bump their head.
  • Encourage the use of non-slip footwear and proper technique when working at heights.

Sports and activity safety

  • Request a medical treatment consent form and indemnity agreement before providing supervision of children or allowing them to participate in physical activities.
  • Use/require helmets or protective gear approved by ASTM when necessary.
  • Make sure helmets or head gear fit properly and are undamaged.
  • Sports activities should be supervised at all times by people trained to spot signs of a possible concussion and respond based on a concussion protocol.
  • Review the area and equipment being used and correct hazards such as unpadded goal posts or damaged equipment.
  • Inspect playgrounds to ensure they have adequate surface fill, are in good repair, and are free from unnecessary hazards.

Transportation safety

  • Wear a seat belt 100% of the time.
  • Only allow safe and responsible drivers to operate a vehicle on behalf of your organization.
  • Follow defensive driving tactics.
  • Inspect vehicles to ensure they are safe and road worthy.

Recognizing the symptoms

Awareness of a concussion is critical in preventing permanent or more severe damage from being done. Learn to recognize the symptoms of a concussion and train others to spot these as well. Common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Headache, nausea, dizziness, or sensitivity to noise or light
  • Changes in mood (irritability anxiety, etc.)
  • Changes in regular sleep patterns

All people suspected of suffering a concussion need to be seen by a health care professional. According to the CDC, emergency medical attention should be sought when:

  • Headache worsens or vomiting continues
  • Person is very drowsy or cannot wake up
  • Person loses consciousness or has seizures

See other danger signs from the CDC.

Responding to a concussion

Promptly responding to a suspected concussion can mean the difference between a relatively minor injury and long term damage or death. Plan ahead so you are prepared to act appropriately following a head injury.

When children are injured:

  • Have an action plan in place to spot and address signs of a concussion - follow any state laws which may apply.
  • Remove the child from play until they are cleared by a medical professional.
  • Contact parents as soon as possible.
  • Seek emergency medical treatment as needed.
  • Document the cause of the injury, the symptoms noted, and how you responded.

When adults are injured:

  • Encourage anyone with a potential head injury to report and get medical attention. Seek emergency medical treatment as needed
  • Document the cause of the injury, the symptoms noted, and your response

When an employee is injured:

For any injuries occurring at your facility, or during sponsored events, contact Church Mutual's Claims Department after the accident to report the injury and receive additional guidance.


Additional Resources:


If you have additional questions about concussion prevention, call our Risk Control Central at (800) 554-2642, ext. 5213, or email riskconsulting@churchmutual.com.

Our Claims Center is here to help! To report a claim, call (800) 554-2642 and select Option 2, or email claims@churchmutual.com.

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P.O. Box 357 | 3000 Schuster Lane | Merrill, WI 54452-0357
Telephone (800) 554-2642 or (715) 536-5577
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