New UK concussion guidance for grassroots sport published

UK Government and the Sport and Recreation Alliance have, on Friday 28 April, published the first UK-wide Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport which will help players, coaches, parents, schools, National Governing Bodies and sports administrators to identify, manage and prevent the issue.

The guidelines, developed by an expert panel of domestic and international clinicians and academics in neurology and sports medicine, sets out steps to improve understanding and awareness of the prevention and treatment of concussion in grassroots sport where trained medical professionals are less likely to be routinely present. It is targeted at people of all ages.

It follows increasing focus on the long-term negative health effects from brain injury and concussion sustained while playing sport. This is linked to advances in training, coaching, equipment and technology which have led to stronger, faster and better-trained players at all levels.

Development of the guidelines has been led by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, Professor James Calder, chair of the expert drafting group, and Laurence Geller, the Government’s Adviser on Concussion in Sport. The expert drafting group drew upon existing field research, with the aim of producing a consistent and preventative approach across all sports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

‘If in doubt, sit them out’ is the strapline, making clear no-one should return to sport within 24 hours of a suspected concussion and builds on guidance already introduced in Scotland.

Players, parents, coaches, teachers and administrators are now asked to read the guidance and familiarise themselves with the necessary steps to:

  • RECOGNISE the signs of concussion;
  • REMOVE anyone suspected of being concussed immediately and;
  • RETURN safely to daily activity, education/work and, ultimately, sport

UK Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said:

“Sport keeps us healthy and active but it is not without risk and major injuries to the head can and do happen.

“Research has shown the importance of fast and effective tailored treatment and we are issuing expert guidance to help people spot and treat head injuries.

“Whether used in a local leisure centre during a swimming lesson or on a village green during a cricket match, the guidance will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government shared:

“These guidelines help players, referees, schools, parents and others balance the substantial health and social benefits and enjoyment from taking part in sport with minimising the rare but serious and potentially lifelong effects of concussion.”

Lisa Wainwright MBE, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO, commented:

“Concussion is a serious issue and we must always strive to make sport as safe as possible for all those who take part at a grassroots level in clubs, schools and many other settings every week across the UK.

“The Sport and Recreation Alliance is pleased to have supported the development of these guidelines which will ensure there is a consistent, evidence-based approach to concussion in sport across all four home nations.

“When it comes to concussion, the message is clear: if in doubt, sit them out.”

Elite athletes have also stated their support of the new guidance, with Welsh rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit, for example, adding:

“I’m really pleased to support the launch of the UK concussion guidance for grassroots sport.

“It’s really important for everyone involved at grassroots level, whatever your role, to be aware of these guidelines, know the signs and take the right action to help protect players against concussion. Remember: If in doubt, sit them out.”

Find detail on the Sport and Recreation Alliance website here.

And find further detail on the UK Government website here.

Welsh Sports Association (WSA) CEO, Andrew Howard, also commented:

“We welcome today’s announcement and the introduction of the first ever UK-wide Concussion in Sport Guidance.

“The Guidance will provide reassuring support for so many volunteers in grassroots sport within our Membership. The ‘If in Doubt, Sit them Out’ slogan is clear and memorable for all stakeholders within the sport and leisure sector.”

The WSA are currently in the final stages of designing a sport-specific e-learning first aid course for our Members, which will include information on the new concussion guidance and further details will be provided to the Membership in due course. Don’t hesitate in getting in contact with the team if you wish to find out more!

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