Headway are spearheading an initiative to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy sport, whilst being better protected from the risks of concussion. The campaign, called 'Concussion Aware' has the backing of the FA and Rugby Football Union, former England rugby union captain Lewis Moody and sports concussion expert Dr Willie Stewart. www.concussionaware.org.uk.
They are encouraging elite level sport to set a good example for others to follow. The message for every sporting individual and club, regardless of level, is to follow the policy - ‘If in doubt, sit it out!’.
Given the potential implications of suffering a serious injury in a sporting environment, it is vital that appropriate medical professionals are on standby to immediately assess the individual and remove them from the game if necessary.
This is particularly important to prevent any second concussion occurring that might impact upon the brain's ability to recover and/or cause any worsening of the condition.
There does not have to be loss of consciousness for concussion to have occurred. The immediate effects of concussion cause the individual to be dazed and confused. They may also suffer poor balance, confusion, nausea and an acute headache. Players may not be aware that concussion doesn’t just arise from an injury to the head. If an individual is hit at force in their body, that force will travel to the brain and could still result in concussion occurring.
Despite their widespread use, headgear does nothing to prevent a concussion from occurring. In rugby, for example, players approach tackles hard and fast. The force of the collision on two adult players is comparable to a car accident at 30mph. Head injuries are, therefore, very common in rugby and other contact sports.
The most dangerous aspect however, is the risk of multiple concussions within a short period of time. This may cause long term problems with memory, lack of concentration and other cognitive functions. The hidden impact after sustaining a concussion injury is that an individual may pass all of the cognitive tests given to them, but their brain is having to work a lot harder than before.
Headway have a number of concussion guides which provide key information, with input from professional sports bodies. They also have information on concussion in children with range of concussion assessment tools. https://www.headway.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/concussion-aware/concussion-guides/. They also have an excellent toolkit https://www.headway.org.uk/media/3937/concussion-aware-toolkit-for-sports-clubs.pdf.
Ashfords are supporting Headway in their campaign to raise awareness of the important issue and for players at every level to follow their advice and 'if in doubt, sit it out'.