A MAN whose teenage son died after sustaining concussion during a school rugby match has backed new guidelines for dealing with the condition in all sport.
The guidelines, said to be a global first, cover sports concussion management across all Scottish sports.
Awareness of the dangers of concussion in sport is improving since we lost Ben but there’s still a long way to go, both in grassroots and professional sport. For too long concussion has not been taken seriously, and that has to changePeter Robinson
They have been drawn up by the Scottish Government’s Chief Medical Officer along with senior medics from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scottish Football Association, Scottish Rugby Union, and the sportscotland institute of sport.
Campaigner Peter Robinson, from Northern Ireland, whose son Ben died in 2011 as a result of sustaining a double concussion during a school rugby match when he was 14, has also been involved.
He said: “Awareness of the dangers of concussion in sport is improving since we lost Ben but there’s still a long way to go, both in grassroots and professional sport. For too long concussion has not been taken seriously, and that has to change.
“With these guidelines we want to help those involved in sport, any sport, to recognise the signs of concussion and know how to deal with it there and then. If you have any doubts then don’t take the risk, sit them out and get them checked out.
“We are not saying that you shouldn’t take part in sport, far from it, there are many benefits to taking part in sport. However there are ways to make it safer and what could be more important than that?”
For the first time the guidance is not sport-specific, but is intended for the general public and grassroots participants across all sports, particularly where medics may not be in attendance.
Clear advice is given to ensure that concussion can be recognised quickly and managed effectively from the initial injury to a phased return to play using World Rugby’s latest guidelines, with the overriding message that all concussions are serious and if in doubt, sit them out.
Dr Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, said: “It is a significant achievement to establish a single, shared set of guidelines for sports concussion management across all Scottish grassroots and amateur sports.
“Through these guidelines, we have achieved a global first, right here in Scotland. However and more importantly for the management of concussion, we now have one definitive set of guidelines for everyone, no matter the sport or activity.”
The guidelines were launched at the Scottish sports and exercise medicine symposium at Hampden in Glasgow today.
Scottish athlete Dr Andrew Murray, from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh, said: “We know that taking part in sport and physical activity has massive health benefits - helping participants be happier and healthier - but it is not without risk. If not recognised and managed properly, concussion can lead to health problems and can even be fatal.
“These guidelines are crystal clear. We need to take concussion seriously and remove anyone with a suspected concussion from the field of play: if in doubt, sit them out.
“This is important for relatives, coaches, schools and health professionals amongst others to have guidance on. Recognising concussion and removing that player from the field of play for medical attention is the safe and the right thing to do.”