Getting Serious About Concussion

Most sports fans and players these days are aware of the severe and often long-term effects of concussion in sport.  We are concerned there are still occasions when it is seen as a badge of honour to “soldier on” or where a head knock is laughed off as “knocking some sense into them”.  This response must change.

We all care about our fellow players, and if one of them had a major “visible” injury (a broken leg or a bad head-cut for example), we would not dream about sending them back into play.  A concussion is harder to pick, but it can be a major “invisible” injury and we must not send concussed players back into play.

So how do you assess if a player may be concussed?  Look for the following signs:

  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness,
  • Lying motionless on ground/Slow to get up,
  • Unsteady on feet,
  • Grabbing / Clutching their head,
  • Dazed, blank or vacant look,
  • Confused /Lack of awareness,

Some of them are obvious but watch for the less obvious signs too.  If you suspect concussion, some questions to ask are:

  • “What venue are we at today?”
  • “Which half is it now?”
  • “Who scored last in this game?”
  • “What team did you play last week?”
  • “Did your team win the last game?”

If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution.  Don’t let the player make the call.  Any player with a suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY and should not be returned to play until they are assessed medically. Players with a suspected concussion should not be left alone and should not drive a motor vehicle.

If ANY of the following are reported then the player should be safely and immediately removed from the field. If no qualified medical professional is available, call an ambulance for urgent medical assessment:

  • Player complains of neck pain
  • Deteriorating conscious state
  • Increasing confusion or irritability
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Unusual behaviour change
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling
  • burning in arms or legs

All coaches, managers and players are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Appendix E on pages 79 and 80 of the SSFA Rule Book.  Your actions may have a major impact on someone’s future health.

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