Advice On Recognising and Treating Concussion

Advice On Recognising and Treating Concussion

In this week’s blog ‘Advice On Recognising and Treating Concussion’ I’m updating a post we published earlier this year with some fresh information and resources that have become available for the recognition and treatment of concussion.  Brain Injuries including concussion are again in the headlines, with the Rugby World Cup being the main driver for press coverage.

As we discussed back in June, the case of Ben Robinson who tragically died from a head injury whilst playing rugby with his school has lead to a campaign to improve awareness of concussion, not just in rugby, but all sports, and to remember the mantra “If In Doubt, Sit Them Out”.  This vital but simple action can have life saving consequences for the casualty, as repeated head knocks can indeed be fatal, so a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach is the one to take.

SportScotland guidanceConcussion Advice. We previously provided a link to a government backed concussion awareness leaflet that is available to download, and this has now been supplemented by sportscotland with further leaflets, information, and memo cards, all of which can be found on the Scottish Sports Concussion Guidance webpage.  These guidance cards also include important questions to ask a casualty, helping you to identify concussion quickly.

World Rugby have also funded a lot of research into recognition of concussion, and the long term effects of brain injuries.  This follows other studies and action plans being carried out by other sports’ governing bodies, with American Football having made significant rule changes in recent years, with a very positive impact on brain injury rates in their sport.  World Rugby have a similar mantra: “Recognise and Remove”, along with a further set of information cards and leaflets that can be downloaded from their site.

For those interested, BBC’s John Beattie, himself a former international rugby player, presented a very interesting Panorama Documentary this week, particularly about concussion in rugby, although the lessons are relevant to any sport or activity where heads can be knocked.

Head injuries are an important issue dealt with on our 2-day first aid courses – both Sports First Aid, and Outdoor First Aid, and as well as the recognition of concussion in the first place, we emphasise the need to monitor a casualty suspected of suffering from concussion over the following hours and potentially days, including during the night.  Any signs or symptoms that appear to be worsening is an indicator that the casualty must go to hospital for a professional check up, and again, if you are in any doubt, a hospital is the best place to go, just to be sure.

To conclude then, the campaign to raise awareness in schools about the dangers of concussion in sport states: ‘Concussion is a disturbance in brain function caused by a direct or indirect force to the head. It results in a variety of non-specific signs/and or symptoms and most often does not involve loss of consciousness. Any young person suspected of having concussion must be immediately removed from play and be medically assessed. After a concussion young people should rest for 14 days and medical clearance should be sought before returning to play’.  Remember too, that ‘returning to play’ doesn’t just include team sports, any activity where heart rate is raised, or a further head knock could occur should be avoided.

Please share this post with anyone who you think will be interested, or find the links above useful.  The more ‘normalised’ this concussion treatment becomes, the easier it will be to make difficult decisions as a coach or first aider that can be very disappointing to a player.

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