Concussion, head injuries - watch for warning signs: Sports Medicine Australia

PLAYER PROTECTION: Sports Medicine Australia is urging local football clubs to be scrupulous in the treatment of injuries during finals, particularly head knocks. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0908sgleague16

PLAYER PROTECTION: Sports Medicine Australia is urging local football clubs to be scrupulous in the treatment of injuries during finals, particularly head knocks. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0908sgleague16

FINALS excitement has swept through Orange and surrounding districts in recent weeks, with the Blowes Clothing Cup rugby and Group 10 rugby league play-offs in full swing.

But amid the euphoria, Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) has reminded all local clubs that with the extra emotion and passion synonymous with semi-final football comes a higher chance of injury, particularly concussion.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, albeit a necessary one, the SMA has urged clubs to make sure they are up-to-date with the new Australian Rugby Union (ARU) concussion guidance protocol.

Sport and exercise physician and ARU concussion specialist Dr Ryan Kohler said all clubs should be aware of the recently-updated guidelines and have personnel on hand trained in the recognition and management of concussion.

“Caution should be exercised when it comes to the management of concussion,” Dr Kohler said.

“This goes not just for the coaches, club officials and trainers, but the players themselves. While it’s easy to get carried away in the pursuit of a premiership, what we don’t want to see are players, particularly juniors, jeopardising their health by trying to play on after a head knock.

“Any player suspected of concussion should immediately be assessed, removed from play and receive a medical assessment. The medical assessment should be performed by a medical practitioner with experience in diagnosing and managing sports-related concussion.”

OUR SAY: Concussion still a major cause for concern on the football field

Dr Sumitha Gounden from Orange Health Service said Dr Kohler’s advice was sound, and implored clubs, officials, players and managers to be as scrupulous as possible when dealing with head knocks.

“Concussion is actually a mild form of traumatic brain injury. The usual signs are an acute alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness after the traumatic event she said.

Dr Gounden said early symptoms may include a headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, slurred or incoherent speech and imbalance or uncoordination.

Dr Gounden said a player running back on the field or staying on the field after a head injury was putting themselves at risk.

“Returning to play following a knock is an absolutely dangerous thing to do because a second knock can have cumulative serious consequences,” she said.

“This is the reason it is important to identify the player who has sustained the concussion, assess the player and prevent the player from returning to sport immediately.

“[The player] needs to be referred to the appropriate clinician who has experience in managing patients with concussion and traumatic brain injury.”

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