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Cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms of concussion include:

A concussion can occur in practice, training or during a match. The IRFU has issued specific protocols for recognising and treating concussion which you can find on their website. Whilst we may be familiar with the physical signs of concussion it is important to remember there can be cognitive or emotional signs of concussion too. Some effects of concussion are immediate; however some may not occur until up to 48 hours later.

– Forgetfulness or difficulty remembering
– Confusion
– Feeling slow or lethargic
– Increased feelings of anxiety or nervousness
– Irritability
– Aggression
– Mood swing
– Heightened emotions
– Getting drunk more easily

Someone who has had a concussion may also be drowsy or feel more sleepy than normal or have problems sleeping. It is important that we start to treat and manage concussion as soon as possible which will mean a quicker recovery. Make sure you seek the right support and tell people if you or any of your teammates and friends are showing signs of concussion.

Tips on dealing with concussion:

First and foremost if you or your teammate/ friend has experienced a concussion or are showing signs of an undiagnosed concussion you must stop training or playing and inform your team medic, coach and/ or family members, teammates or housemates.

It is important that you follow the gradual return to play strategy (GRTP) as set out by the IRFU. Remember to gradually increase your level of activity after 1-2 days of rest, where this activity does not cause a re-occurrence of any symptoms of concussion. The majority of players will make a full recovery within 7-10 days, however 5-15% will experience symptoms for longer. If you are one of those whose symptoms persist, be sure to seek medical advice, and talk to other players who have been through a similar experience. Working with a psychologist can also help you with some of the cognitive, behavioural and emotional issues that may be present.

– Turn to your support network to help you get through this. Friends and family, physios, medics and S&C coaches as well as a sport psychologist and/or PDM can help you come up with a plan that suits you to get back to being match fit.
– Set short term realistic goals. Returning to play can seem like a long process and may include small setback. Set small realistic goals to help you keep going throughout.
– Practice gratitude. Record what you are grateful for during your recovery. This can help keep you in a positive mindset on the road to recovery. Check out the various gratitude sections to see why and how to practice your gratitude.


Remember: Concussion is an injury, just like any other which requires full and stringent recovery, because it is a “hidden injury” we often think we can return sooner or do not give ourselves the chance to fully recover. Follow the IRFU GTRP which can be found on their website under their IRFU Concussion Protocols.

During recovery it is important to continue to consult your physio, team doctor, conditioning coach and/ sport psychologist. Speak to friends/ teammates who have been through injury before, or support other athletes who may also be injured at the same time. Your PDM will also be able to provide advice throughout your injury.


While we always encourage you to reach out to your support network (friends and family) there are going to be some challenges that you face that will need to be discussed with people who have more authority or expertise.

Your first port of call for additional advice and support could be your PDM, as they will be able to point you in the right direction regardless of the challenge.

Deirdre Lyons – Connacht
Pam Gilpin – Ulster
Marcus Horan – Munster
TBC – Leinster
Aoife Lane – Women’s XV
TBC – Men & Women’s Sevens

If you are facing a mental wellbeing challenge you can call the Mental Wellbeing Service on 1800 83 22 84 in ROI or on 08000 086 502 from NI.

Other supports can be the medical team, your GP, your agent or other RPI representatives.

For concussion specific information visit the IRFU website for useful tips and the return to play protocol.