SCHOOLS and sports clubs across Scotland are being sent a new leaflet with a “potentially lifesaving message” about the dangers of concussion for youngsters.
The campaign comes in the wake of the death of a schoolboy in Northern Ireland, who suffered a double concussion while playing rugby.
Benjamin Robinson, 14, died from a rare version of traumatic brain injury called second impact syndrome after a school rugby match in Co Antrim in 2011.
New guidance is now being issued in Scotland, advising coaches, teachers and parents on how to spot the signs of concussion and what action to take.
The leaflet, which is being sent to schools and sports governing bodies in Scotland, makes the point: “If in doubt, sit them out.”
Sport minister Shona Robison said that was “a potentially lifesaving message that will help keep children as safe as possible”.
She added it was “vital that people at all levels of sport understand the signs - and the dangers - of concussion”.
Education Secretary Mike Russell said: “Benjamin’s death was a tragic case and his parents have been instrumental in ensuring there is a clear message to schools and sports clubs that concussion should be taken seriously and that anyone suspected of sustaining such an injury should be immediately removed from play.
“We hope this leaflet will help prevent further tragic incidents of concussion in children and young people playing sport by helping adults recognise the symptoms and know what action to take.
“The Scottish Government is committed to creating more opportunities for children and young people to get involved in sport.
“However, it is critically important that everyone involved in youth sport is aware of the signs, and symptoms, of concussion and understand the need for a young person to be medically assessed if they suspect they have suffered such an injury.”
The new campaign is supported by the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), the Scottish Football Association and sportscotland.
Dr James Robson, chief medical officer for the SRU, said: “The health of Scotland’s young people is paramount and sport plays a central part in achieving that well-being.
“Unfortunately, injuries do occur. Concussion is presently the most important condition confronting those of us caring for our nation’s most precious assets.
“That importance is highlighted by the commitment shown by the Scottish Government in ensuring, through this leaflet, that the information regarding recognition and the correct management of concussion reaches all those involved in youth sport and physical activity.”
Dr Willie Stewart, a consultant neuropathologist at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, also backed the campaign and said: “This is a most welcome initiative from the Scottish Government and our major sporting organisations to present this clear guidance on how to manage concussion, which is summed up by the simple and safe message, ‘if in doubt, sit them out’.”