RFU Announces Compulsory Concussion Education Plans

New Training Programme To Be Introduced Before The Start Of Next Season

14.01.2014

The RFU has confirmed a new compulsory concussion education programme will be introduced before the start of next season.

English rugby union's governing body revealed that all professional players and coaches across the country will take part in the scheme.

There has been a great deal of debate about brain injuries in sport in recent weeks, with experts raising concerns about the number of rugby, soccer and American football players in particular suffering heavy blows to the head during matches.

The RFU believes this new course - which will include an online module and further resources - will help to raise awareness of the issue.

Chief medical officer at the organisation Simon Kemp said: "Concussion is acknowledged to be one of the most challenging sports injuries to diagnose, assess and rehabilitate but we continue to make significant progress in this area.

"The education initiative is designed to broaden understanding beyond healthcare practitioners and facilitate the further cultural change needed across the game for good concussion management."

He added that the way concussion is treated in the professional game will set the standard for how head injuries are dealt with at amateur level.

The education programme has been approved by the Professional Game Board (PGB) and will be aligned with the Zurich Consensus on Concussion in Sport and the International Rugby Board's Concussion Guidelines.

Aviva Premiership, Greene King IPA Championship and Regional Academy players and coaches will all take part and the scheme will also be rolled out to referees and healthcare providers.

Having given the green light to the initiative, the PGB has also made a number of recommendations via its Medical Advisory Group.

These include greater use of video footage to assess the cause and severity of injuries, a new review process for the Pitchside Concussion Assessment, a commitment to best practice in the Graduated Return to Play protocol and support for more studies that assess the long-term effects of head injuries on retired players.

Rugby director of Premiership Rugby Phil Winstanley insisted that breakthrough scientific studies on head injuries are being published all the time and it is vital that the game is making full use of these.

Expert Opinion
We welcome this training programme as we continue to be contacted by sportsmen and women who suffer head injuries that have been left unrecognised for significant amounts of time due to a lack of information about how concussion can develop.

“It is not unusual for an individual to suffer a head injury and feel fine immediately after, but then find that their condition deteriorates a short time later because more damage was done than first thought.

“Head injuries can lead to bleeding on the brain which can have fatal consequences if left untreated and we hope the training programme leads to increased awareness and monitoring of how head injuries and concussion can develop to make the sport safer for all involved.

“We also hope that the training will be rolled out within other contact sports, such as football and boxing, so all sports professionals are kept up to date with the latest research and rehabilitation treatments.”
Stephen Nye, Partner