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The role of the athlete in concussion in sport

11 June 2024

Concussion affects athletes at all levels of sport from the part-time recreational athlete through to the full-time professional. Paralympian Sam Carter is one our athletes who has shared his story as part of the 2024 AIS Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement online resources.

Paralympic sprinter Sam Carter, 32, was flying down the back straight of the Blacktown Athletics Track competing in the 2016 Australian Championships T54 relay - the next thing he remembers was being picked up off the track.

"There was an athlete in my lane I wasn’t anticipating, and I didn’t have my head up, as I tend not to do when I’m racing,” Carter said."

"I was going about 35 kilometres an hour when I ran straight into the back of them."

"I came out of my chair and was thrown through the air a couple of metres before hitting the track pretty hard."

The Queenslander was helped off the track and taken to hospital in an ambulance, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

Being his first and only concussion, Carter said he was surprised by some of the symptoms he endured following the accident.

"Initially, I recall being disorientated and my recollection of the event was pretty fuzzy."

"Soon after, I developed nausea and vomiting and was definitely more emotional and just out of soughts for the first couple of days after the incident."

Carter said he worked with his doctor and physiotherapist during his recovery – a process that took longer than he expected.

"I did a range of cognitive tests to track my recovery and see when I could return to training."

"It took about two weeks for me to start light training and then another ten days until I felt like I was back at normal."

"It took longer than I expected, but I was glad my GP and Physio were being thorough."

The Paralympian encouraged other athletes to share their concussion stories, so others don’t feel alone if they are unfortunate enough to suffer a concussion.

"I hadn't really had any conversations with anyone before the incident about what having a concussion or recovering from a concussion would entail, so, it was a bit scary."

"It's one thing to hear information from medical personnel, but another to get that firsthand experience from other athletes."

"To have had an athlete to speak to or to say this is what I felt, would have been really helpful."

To learn more, visit the Concussion in Sport online hub here.

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