Now that winter sports (particularly contact sports like rugby) are in full swing it is important that we are all taking care of players health. Whether you are a coach, player, medical professional or parent, it is important that we work together to ensure the safety of the player.
Most people think that you have lose consciousness to have concussion, this is not the case. Only 10% of concussion cases loose consciousness. Concussion is a trauma to the brain that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that shakes the brain inside the skull.
Some Signs and symptoms to look out for
“feeling in a fog”
If they have mild concussion this can be treated at home, symptoms such as mild headaches that goes away on it's own or with painkillers, slight dizziness, feeling sick or being in a daze. If they have more severe symptoms of concussion then they should be taken to hospital.
The principles of concussion management- the 7R’s
Recognise- head injury events with potential to result in concussion. Initial on- field or side-line evaluation.
Remove- If you suspect concussion remove them from play and refer to a medical professional for an examination. “if in doubt, sit them out”.
Rest- If concussion is confirmed, physical and cognitive rest is required until symptom free. They should be assessed by a medical professional to confirm they have been symptom free for the appropriate amount of time before following a graduated program of exertion with rehabilitation prior to play.
Return- once graduated return to play had been completed and they have been signed off by a medical practitioner they can return to play.
The reason it is important for a player to take time out to recover …
The player has increased risk of developing Post-Concussion Syndrome ( PCS) with symptoms lasting over 3 months
Possible increased risk of long term health consequences e.g. mild cognitive impairment or degenerative brain disorders in later life.
Further concussive events before recovery in adolescents while very rare and poorly understood, can be FATAL, due to severe brain swelling – known as second impact syndrome.
Increased risk (<3X) of further concussion or other injury due to impaired cognition/ thinking, reaction time and balance
Impaired personal and team performance
A concussion should be taken seriously just like any other serious injury. Remember “if in doubt, sit them out” and seek medical advice.