Dr Catherine Calderwood said the physical and mental health benefits of sport are “considerable”, in an article for the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
But she warned the growing risk of concussion must be properly managed or participation levels could fall away. It emerged recently that concussion levels have doubled in the past five years in rugby.
“The last thing I want is for parents to stop their children from taking up sport because of the fear of concussion,” Dr Calderwood said.
“As doctors, our first concern is always the health and wellbeing of the people we look after. Participation in rugby, and in sport, offers considerable benefits to physical and mental health, and we are keen to promote sport and an active lifestyle in Scotland.
“We must all work together to stop this from happening.
“The launch of the ‘Scottish Concussion Guidelines’ highlights we are working hard to educate players, and all those involved in sport, about the dangers of concussion, and we will continue to do so. The clear message is ‘If in doubt, sit them out’.”
Medical experts from World Rugby and the Scottish Rugby Union recently warned changes may be needed to make the game safer, particularly tacking, in a documentary by ex-Scotland rugby international John Beattie last week.
It included a call for action from Peter Robinson, whose son died after suffering a head injury playing rugby.
Dr Calderwood’s article is co-written with Dr Willie Stewart of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, an advisor to World Rugby and leading expert on brain injuries in sport, and Dr Andrew Murray, a Sports and Exercise Medicine consultant with the University of Edinburgh.
The risk of concussion is low and should not stop people playing sport or allowing their children to take part, it says. But Dr Calderwood warns a failure to promote good advice and information in amateur sport could lead to lower participation.