How to Recognize a Concussion

By: Laurin Walton, Physiotherapist

Why Early Recognition and Treatment of Concussion is Important

Being able to recognize when a concussion may have occurred is important in getting a person the care they need. It could be your teammate, your child, or yourself. Only a qualified medical professional can diagnose a concussion, but anyone can learn how to identify a possible concussion. Early recognition and treatment of concussions can improve a person’s recovery. I believe that knowledge is power, and I want to give you the tools to identify a possible concussion!

Guidance From the Experts

Every 4 years (except during the COVID-19 pandemic), an international group of concussion experts get together to create a consensus statement that reflects the most up-to-date research on concussion. They have also created the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 (CRT5) to help non-medical professionals identify when a concussion may have occurred.

Davis GA, et al. Br J Sports Med 2017;0:1. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097508CRT5

The CRT5 helps you to identify red flags that would indicate emergent medical attention. It also gives you guidance on how to recognize a possible concussion and information on what to do next. Check out the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 (CRT5) above.

Click here for your own copy of the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 which was developed by the Concussion in Sport Group. Keep a copy of it handy on your phone or print a copy for your sports bag.

Takeaways From the Concussion Recognition Tool 5 (CRT5)

  • Check for red flags and get emergent medical help if red flags are present
  • Use the guidelines to identify a possible concussion
  • If a concussion is suspected, the person should not return to their activity until they are seen by a qualified medical professional
  • Follow the guidance for care provided on the CRT5 if you suspect a concussion
  • Book an appointment with a physiotherapist or another qualified medical professional

I have taken many courses to further my concussion training. If no red flags are identified on the CRT5, it may still be beneficial to get a concussion assessment from one of our qualified physiotherapists by clicking here.

What Does a Concussion Assessment with a Physiotherapist Look Like?

    • We ask you questions about your injury, how you are currently feeling and any relevant history
    • We complete a physical assessment that includes a neurological screen, and other areas that may be affected (neck, eyes, inner ear, balance, etc.)
    • We determine a specific treatment based on the findings of the assessment
    • We will provide personalized education and a plan to help you know what you can be doing right away for your recovery and how to get you safely back to your activities.


If you are in a situation where you think someone may have sustained a concussion, the CRT5 will guide you through what to look for and what to do. I hope it helps you feel more prepared to deal with these stressful situations. When in doubt, book a physiotherapy appointment with me at Stride by clicking here and I can help solve your concussion questions and problems!

**Disclaimer: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical professional for your specific case. This is not intended to diagnose a concussion.**