How seriously do we take concussion? It appears that there is a wide range of response to the sports player who has taken a knock to the head, and then suffers ongoing symptoms as a result. These symptoms can be mild, and range from nausea and feeling a bit dazed, to convulsions and collapse – but all deserve appropriate assessment, and a low thresh-hold for time-out, at least until symptoms have fully resolved.
The following poignant video tells the story of Ben Robinson, a 14 year old school rugby player. He received a number of impacts to his head during a Belfast rugby match in 2011, following which he collapsed and died. His father highlights the importance of taking one impact and resulting symptoms seriously.
What can we do?
The evidence suggests that we need to ramp up how seriously we consider these injuries. The latest campaign by the International Rugby Board to raise awareness, called ‘Concussion – Recognise & Remove’ has offered some great resources from posters and clear guidance for all levels of expertise, to online modules on the subject.
The Scottish Government has backed the Scottish Rugby Union in raising awareness in Scotland, and has also issued its specific guidance. Senior doctor to both the Lions and Scottish Rugby teams, Dr James Robson, talks about the issue in the Scotsman, and the official Scottish Government guidance is available here.
Dr Jonathan Hanson, Rural Practitioner and Sports & Medicine Physician on the Isle of Skye, has been tweeting actively about this subject over the last 6 months in particular. His interest in sports prehospital medicine has kept him busy highlighting a number of issues about the subject.
— Dr Jonathan Hanson (@SportsDocSkye) August 29, 2013
— Dr Jonathan Hanson (@SportsDocSkye) February 7, 2014
What information is good for patients & parents?
This video from DocMikeEvans manages to explain the topic really well.
Not just rugby
The rugby community have been effective in raising the profile of concussion management, especially at school team level. However, the importance of taking concussion seriously extends beyond the injuries received in typical rugby matches. All sports, especially contact sports, have the potential to cause concussion injury.
A balance needs to be struck. This news item from STV (including video) puts the issues into perspective. It’s vital for everyone, particularly school kids, to enjoy and be able to access regular sports activity. However where a player receives a head injury, and especially where there are any symptoms or signs as a result, their brain should be protected by some time off, and by following this latest easy-to-use guidance.