Play Safe - Concussion Awareness

The City of St. Catharines is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants in City programs. Participating in recreational activities can result in injuries, including concussions, which can have long-term complications if they're not dealt with properly.

What is a concussion and what causes them

Boy hitting soccer ball with his headA concussion is a brain injury that causes changes in how the brain functions, leading to symptoms that can be:
  • physical (e.g., headache, dizziness)
  • cognitive (e.g., difficulty concentrating or remembering)
  • emotional/behavioural (e.g., depression, irritability) and/or
  • related to sleep (e.g., drowsiness, difficulty falling asleep)
A concussion may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that transmits a force to the head that causes the brain to move rapidly within the skull and can occur even if there has been no loss of consciousness - in fact loss of consciousness occurs in only about 5% of concussions.

Following a blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that transmits a force to the head, a concussion should be suspected in the presence of any one or more of the following signs or symptoms.

Possible Signs Of a Concussion observed by another person


  • vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • slowed reaction time
  • poor coordination or balance
  • blank stare/glassy-eyed/dazed or vacant look
  • decreased playing ability
  • loss of consciousness or lack of responsiveness
  • lying motionless on the ground or slow to get up
  • amnesia
  • seizure or convulsion
  • grabbing or clutching of head


  • difficulty concentrating
  • easily distracted
  • general confusion
  • cannot remember things that happened before and after the injury
  • does not know time, date, place, class, type of activity in which s/he was participating
  • slowed reaction time (e.g., answering questions or following directions)


  • strange or inappropriate emotions (e.g., laughing, crying, getting angry easily)

Sleep Disturbance

  • drowsiness
  • insomnia

Possible symptoms of a concussion reported by an individual


  • headache
  • pressure in head
  • neck pain
  • feeling off/not right
  • ringing in the ears
  • seeing double or blurry/loss of vision
  • seeing stars, flashing lights
  • pain at physical site of injury
  • nausea/stomach ache/pain
  • balance problems or dizziness
  • fatigue or feeling tired
  • sensitivity to light or noise


  • difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • slowed down, fatigue or low energy
  • dazed or in a fog


  • irritable, sad, more emotional than usual
  • nervous, anxious, depressed

Sleep Disturbance

  • drowsy
  • sleeping more/less than usual
  • difficulty falling asleep

Notes about concussions

  • Signs/symptoms can appear right after the injury, or may appear within hours or days of the injury.
  • The signs/symptoms may be different for everyone.
  • An individual may be reluctant to report symptoms for fear that they will be removed from the activity, or their status on a team or in a group or game could be jeopardized.
  • It may be difficult for younger children (under the age of 10) and those with special needs or where English is not their first language to communicate how they are feeling.
  • Signs for younger children (under the age of 10) may not be as obvious as in adults.


For more information on concussion prevention, management and treatment, please visit:

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