State-wide guidelines for managing concussion in sport

A SET of statewide guidelines for managing concussion in community sport competitions has been launched amid concerns only two out of 10 concussions at a local sport level are diagnosed.

The NSW government has provided a $78,350 grant to Sports Medicine Australia to develop the guidelines and run awareness workshops in communities across the state.

“There is nothing tough about playing with a concussion,” Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said, announcing the initiative, on Friday.    

“I encourage players, sports officials and parents to remember the three ‘Rs’ – recognise the symptoms, remove from play and refer to a medical professional.”

Mr Ayres said there needed to be a culture shift around the idea that players soldier on after a sporting incident. 

“It is not good enough that only 20 per cent of concussions are diagnosed in local sport and I hope these new guidelines will help trigger a sector-wide culture shift,” he said.

A series of more than 30 community workshops start next week and will be run by University of Newcastle clinical neuropsychologist Dr Andrew Gardner. 

The workshops will provide hands-on guidance and advice taken directly from the concussion protocols, which were developed by a panel of experts, including Dr Gardner. 

In announcing the guidelines and workshops, Mr Ayres said it was vital that junior sporting groups understood what to look for when it came to possible concussion following incidents.

“We are proud to have partnered with Sports Medicine Australia to develop a recommended code of practice to assist sporting codes, parents, players and trainers in NSW in recognising the early signs of a head injury,” Mr Ayres said.

“We also need to protect junior athletes. 

“We know that children and adolescents can have increased susceptibility to concussion and can take longer to recover. 

“They may also be at risk of severe consequences such as second impact syndrome.”

Sportts Medicine Australia board chairman Dr Andrew Jowett said the protocols recommend appointing a designated person at a local level to implement the guidelines.

“The guidelines cover all major concussion concerns, including understanding and recognising what concussion is, managing a suspected concussion and returning to sport safely,” Dr Jowett said.

The free workshops will be held across the state during the first half of the year.

The community workshops will be in Newcastle on February 20 and March 1, and in Cessnock on February 21.

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