MP Accuses Sporting Bodies of Complacency Over Concussion

MP Bryant In Anti-Complacency Concussion Warning To Sports Bodies


A member of parliament has accused sporting bodies throughout Britain of "turning a blind eye" to the issue of concussion injuries, despite their evident danger.

Labour member Chris Bryant made the accusation as the cross-party Concussion Can Kill report was published. He was one of the authors alongside Conservative MPs John Glen and Chris Heaton-Harris, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington and former paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The study was prompted by a number of on-field incidents, such as the death of junior rugby player Ben Robinson, who had returned to the field after one head blow and sustained fatal injuries after a second collision.

It also noted the potential impact successive concussions can have in causing the onset of dementia and brain disease in later life, with the recent diagnosis of the late footballer Jeff Astle as a case in point.

The report has said children should only be introduced to heading footballs gradually, in order to protect them from this kind of injury at a young age.

Astle, the former England and West Bromwich Albion centre forward who was famous for his heading ability, died at the age of 59 in 2002. The cause of death was chronic traumatic encephalopathy, diagnosed as being the result of a number of aerial collisions during matches. This kind of brain injury is normally associated with boxers.

The report has said that rugby needs to improve its pitchside concussion assessments, condemning the current arrangements as "insubstantial". It recommends that a single set of protocols for this issue are brought in and applied to all sports, noting that the Football Association “does not have any formal concussion protocols in place,” while other sports have unclear instructions.

Other recommendations include carrying out more research into the condition Astle suffered from, a public awareness campaign on how serious the issue is and more co-ordination over the issue between sports, schools and the health service.

Mr Bryant said: "We are letting players, especially young players, down if we don’t take this seriously - and soon."

Expert Opinion
Considering the significant long-term consequences that concussion is often linked to, it is welcome to see calls continue for sporting bodies to both develop a better understanding of the risks faced by sportspeople and implement measures to protect competitors or players from harm.

"Our work means we have seen numerous cases which have shown the effect that head injuries can have on victims and why it is hugely important that this issue is treated with the utmost care. It is vital that any concussion or similar injury is always handled in the best possible manner with the needs of the victim always made the priority."
Stephen Nye, Partner