Concussions in sport

Sport and physical activity play a significant role in the lives of many Canadians – from creating a sense of belonging and community, to producing tremendous health and emotional benefits. To increase sport participation and active lifestyles, we need to work towards reducing the incidence and impact of serious injuries and keep sport safe.

The Government of Canada recognizes that too many individuals experience concussions during sport and recreation activities, sometimes with tragic outcomes. Concussions in sport are a recognized public health issue because of their frequency and their potential short- and long-term consequences.

For example

  • 64% of visits to hospital emergency departments among 10-18 year-olds are related to participation in sports, physical activity and recreation.
  • Among children and youth (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39% were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24% were possible concussions.
  • Football, soccer and hockey have all shown a greater than 40% increase in rates of reported head injury (relative to other injuries) between 2004 and 2014 for children and youth.

These are staggering statistics, so we need to ensure that we collectively take action for safer and well-managed sport.

In order to do so, we know that greater awareness of the dangers of concussions and of the means to prevent, detect and/or responsibly manage the return-to-learn and return-to-play process is necessary among everyone involved in sports and recreation, both on and off the field. This includes athletes, parents, teachers, coaches, officials, sports and recreation organizations.

What we’re doing

The Minister of Health and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities have been given a mandate by the Prime Minister to work with stakeholders including provincial/territorial governments, national level sport organizations, and health partners to support a Pan-Canadian Concussion Strategy to help prevent and manage concussions. The education sector is also a key partner in addressing concussions.

Budget 2016 provided $1.4 million over two years, starting in 2016–17, to allow the Public Health Agency of Canada to lead the work with provinces and territories on this important issue with a focus on athlete and student return-to-play and return-to-learn protocols.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has provided funding to Parachute Canada to develop a mobile app and concussion video to help youth, parents, coaches and educators learn how to prevent, recognize and care for concussions.  The mobile app, Concussion Ed, is available

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) support research on injury prevention, including providing funding for 19 research projects on mild traumatic brain injuries, with a focus on improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment for populations most at risk of suffering from these injuries, including children and youth, athletes, and seniors.

The Federal/Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Concussions in Sport was created in 2015 and has been working to develop a harmonized approach to address the issue of concussions. This approach includes five key components

  1. awareness,
  2. prevention,
  3. detection,
  4. management, and
  5. surveillance

Their work will lead to the development of pan-Canadian Concussion Guidelines, including return-to-play and return-to-learn protocols.

The working group is comprised of representatives of the:

At the 2016 conference of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial (F-P/T) Ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation, held in Lethbridge, Alberta on June 8 and 9, 2016, there was unanimous acknowledgment that concussions are an important public health issue that will benefit from effective multi-sectoral collaboration.  In such, officials are working to align efforts amongst F-P/T governments and stakeholders in the sport, recreation, education and health sectors on the component mentioned above.


June 9, 2016

June 1, 2016

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