Concussion in sport – Know the risks

At an event in the Senedd, Education Minister Huw Lewis, Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething and Deputy Sports Minister Ken Skates have unveiled ‘Welsh Government guidance on concussion awareness for school and community sport up to age 19’.

A leaflet has been developed after consultation with the International Rugby Board (IRB), the Football Association of Wales (FAW), the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and child health professionals in the NHS. The leaflet provides relevant information and highlights potential dangers associated with head injuries and concussion and has been issued widely to schools, sports governing bodies and across the health sector in Wales.

The guidance includes a copy of the Pocket ‘Concussion Recognition Tool’ (CRT) which sets out how to spot concussion, the importance of taking it seriously, and how to respond.

Also included in the guidance is the ‘Graduated Return To Play Protocol’ which provides guidance on essential rest periods for injured players before undertaking a gradual and phased return to training and full sporting activities.

The production of the guidance follows the tragic case of Ben Robinson who was only 14 when he died as a result of sustaining a double concussion during a school rugby match in Northern Ireland.

The Coroner ruled that Ben’s death was “second impact syndrome” (SIS) following concussion, and could have been avoided had someone been able to recognise the signs of concussion and remove him from the game.

Ben’s father, Peter, met Education Minister Huw Lewis last year during which the Minister committed to raise awareness of the issue. Ben’s parents were consulted with closely during development of the guidance and Mr Robinson will be present at today’s event.

Huw Lewis said:

“The tragic death of Ben Robinson is a reminder to all of us of the importance of this issue and I’d like to pay tribute to Ben’s parents who have worked tirelessly to prevent other families suffering a similar tragedy.

“I urge all those involved in arranging or delivery of sports activities including school staff, referees and coaches, as well as parents and young people themselves, to read this important guidance and to share it widely.”

Vaughan Gething commented:

“We must be vigilant about the signs of concussion – it is a serious matter which shouldn’t be ignored.

“Accidents and injuries do unfortunately happen. The crucial message in this guidance leaflet is the need to recognise the possibility of a concussion-related injury and to take action.”

Ken Skates added:

“Wales is a sports-mad country and there is no doubt that participating in sports is a great way of keeping fit, socialising and engaging in healthy competition. But it is important to remain aware of the potential risks involved.

“Thankfully cases such as that which sadly affected Ben, are extremely rare. It would be a fitting tribute to Ben and his parents if this guidance can raise awareness of this important issue and cases such as this become even rarer.