Concussion is a big thing in todays society; with more interest in professional sport day by day, is the grassroots game being left behind? Are we risking the safety of children, young adults and everyone else that plays the sport they love. I can recall several incidents from games I have played in where if it was the elite level the player would be pulled from the action.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. This doesn’t need a massive impact to the head to occur. In its simplest form it is where your brain rattles around in your head hitting the inside of your skull. Not all symptoms are present straight away; you should air on the side of caution if you ever suspect a concussion. Some symptoms can include; nausea, headache, double vision and episodes of anger.
What happens when you are diagnosed with a concussion?
Dependent on your sport, the protocol for return to play will differ. In the elite setting the standard of protocol is far higher than what you will find elsewhere. In amateur sport, there are no medical professionals at clubs who will clear your player to return. You will have to have the player talk to their GP before doing anything.
You need to be cleared at every stage of the return to play protocol. Many people are aware of the RFU or FA concussion protocols; but, if they are not, why are they not? This shows a clear lack of care about safety of athletes.
For the first period of time you need complete rest. This means no phone, laptop or TV. From there you gradually return back to exercise in a controlled manner to reduce the risk of secondary impact syndrome.
Are we failing young athletes who get concussed?
Personally, I think we are. You will have seen that they have limited the amount of heading in football at the younger ages; but what is the point in protecting them in the early formative years to let them down when into their teens?
I can recall several events where a player has taken a blow to the head and they are told to continue. Are we promoting the correct response for head injuries, definitely not. However, this is a difficult thing to change; it takes a lot of education of parents, players, coaches and governing bodies.
Is the treatment of concussion at the grassroots level appropriate?
I appreciate that there are no medical staff at the grassroots game, with all first aid lumped onto the coaches. They are there to coach not to treat injuries. If their best player takes a bang to the head they are going to want them to continue no matter what the cost.
So the treatment of concussion at the grassroots level is absolutely rubbish. No player wants to have to sit on the sideline, they are always going to say they are fine no matter what. Did you know that if they had another bang to the head they are at risk of death? Secondary impact syndrome is a fatal problem. Yet we still risk the safety of our players for a win…
I feel that each club should have a concussion first aider. Every time there is a bang to the head the player has to report to them immediately to be cleared for a return to action. If this isn’t possible then the player should take no further action in the game.