Munster legend and top referee Johnny Lacey recently helped the IRFU launch a new concussion guide to educate those playing, supporting or officiating rugby on how to recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion.
It warned that ignoring symptoms and continuing to train or play can, in rare instances, be fatal. A Guide to Concussion in Rugby Union outlines four simple, important, messages:
1. Stop â€“ A player with a suspected concussion must be removed immediately and must not return to the field.
2. Inform â€“ A player with suspected concussion should report it to a team medic, coach, teammate, friend or family member and be properly assessed and managed. They must not be left alone or drive a vehicle.
3. Rest â€“ A player with a concussion must undertake a mandatory rest period as per IRFU guidelines outlined in the Guide to Concussion in Rugby Union.
4. Return â€“ A player with a concussion must follow the IRFU Graduated Return to Play protocols and should be medically cleared prior to returning to full contact.
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury in which forces are transmitted to the brain and result in temporary impairment of brain function.
Concussion can have a significant impact on the short and long term health of player if not managed correctly
The visible clues of a suspected concussion are:
- Lying motionless on ground
- Dazed blank or vacant look
- Slow to get up
- Confused/Not aware of player of events
- Unsteady on feet
- Suspected or confirmed loss of consciousness
- Balance problems or falling over
- Loss of responsiveness
- Grabbing/Clutching head
The guide calls on players to be honest with themselves and medical staff in reporting symptoms, outlines the need for comprehensive medical assessment of such injuries and warns that returning to play before the concussion is completely resolved may have extremely serious long-term health consequences.
The guide contains a pocket Concussion Recognition Tool that lists concussion signs and symptoms for players, coaches, officials, parents, team managers and medical staff. This allows them to Recognise and Remove any player displaying concussion symptoms until the player has completed the appropriate IRFU Graduated Return To Play protocols.
The guide is downloadable from www.irishrugby.ie/medical and will be distributed to every rugby-playing school and club in the coming weeks.