Concussion in Rugby
Some absolutely fantastic information from England Rugby on concussion. We’ve got an Overview & Assessing Guide here, but for more info PLEASE visit England Rugby HeadCare Campaign. All Credit to England Rugby.
What is concussion? Is it serious?
Concussion is a disturbance of the normal working of the brain but without there being any structural damage. Most people who sustain a concussion do not require any treatment as they normally get better by themselves and recover quickly, but for some the symptoms may last for days, weeks or in rare cases even longer.
Is concussion different in young players?
In young players we do need to be more cautious. Because the child or adolescent brain is still developing, there is particular concern that concussion can have more of an impact on the brain, and a second concussion occurring before recovery of the first results in prolonged symptoms that can have a significant impact on the child.
Can more serious conditions appear like concussion?
Although extremely rare in sport, a blow to the head (direct or indirect) may first appear to be concussion, when in reality there is something more serious going on; such as bleeding or swelling in or around the brain. Sometimes the symptoms of a more serious brain injury do not occur for several hours or days after the initial injury has taken place. If not recognised, these injuries can have very serious consequences.
What about repeated concussions?
Because there is considerable variation in the initial effects of concussion, and spontaneous recovery is often rapid, this can increase the potential for players to ignore concussion symptoms at the time of injury or return to play before they’ve fully recovered. There are therefore concerns that repeated concussion – particularly before full recovery – could shorten a player’s career, significantly interfere with their academic performance, and may have some potential to result in permanent neurological impairment.
Assessment of Suspected Concussion
Identifying concussion is not always easy, and players may not exhibit the signs or
symptoms immediately or they may be quite subtle. Therefore any young player in particular
who receives a blow to the head should be assessed for concussion.
If they have no signs or symptoms and pass the assessment, they may return to play but
they should be kept a close eye on, as signs and symptoms may develop latter in the game
or training session. If they have any signs or symptom, or fail the assessment, or if you are
concerned, remove them from play and send them for assessment by a doctor.
Assessing the player:
The RFU recommends that coaches use and familiarise themselves with the Pocket Sports
Concussion Assessment Tool (Pocket SCAT) which can be downloaded from the resources
section of rfu.com/concussion.
While concussion guidelines apply to all age groups particular care needs to be taken with
children and adolescents because their brain is still developing. Children and adolescents
with suspected concussion MUST be referred to a Medical Practitioner immediately for initial
They may also need additional specialist medical assessment.
- A medical practitioner is a registered doctor of medicine e.g. GP or hospital doctor
- A health care professional is an appropriately-qualified and practising practitioner
registered with the Health Professions Council who has been trained in the identification
of concussion symptoms and the management of a concussed player e.g.
physiotherapist, nurse, osteopath, chiropractor, or paramedic
- A non-medical practitioner is lay person trained in Emergency First Aid or First Aid
(more details regarding first aid cover are available at rfu.com/firstaid).
Remember the 4 R’s of concussion management:
RECOGNISE REMOVE RECOVER RETURN
Source: England Rugby