You only get one brain and knowing how to spot the potential signs of a concussion when and if it happens is a valuable life skill.
As part of our Player Welfare campaign we’re on a mission provide more education, awareness and resources on concussion. We’re lucky to have the brilliant Dr Stephanie Adams on hand to help us out. Stephanie has a PhD in Concussion Education and an MsC (Hons) in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology from the University of Edinburgh. Her main area of expertise is on delivering educational programming on the topics of concussion and physical activity for health. She also leads the ConcussEd research and knowledge exchange group on concussion.
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Stephanie will be leading a free Zoom Q&A session this Sunday 7th March at 10.30am alongside Peter Robinson who is also involved in ConcussEd and is a vocal campaigner on the dangers of TBI and concussion after losing his 14-year-old son Ben to second impact syndrome (SIS) during a rugby game.
In the meantime, Stephanie has been kind enough to write a blog for us on concussion and some important things we should know as female rugby players.
2 minutes to learn about concussion? Here are a few things you should know.
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It affects how we think, learn, move and perform. Moving away from using phrases like “it was just a hit to the head” or “they took a knock at the weekend” is encouraged.
Concussions can indeed happen if there is a hit or knock to the head, but they can also result when there is impact to the neck, shoulders or elsewhere on the body which then causes the brain to move very rapidly inside the skull.
Whilst a trained medical professional is responsible for making the final diagnosis, we all have a role to play in helping to spot the potential signs of concussion.
Some signs and symptoms are obvious (e.g., loss of consciousness – which happens in less than 10% of cases) and some may be subtle. They can be physical (e.g., dizziness, headache), cognitive (e.g., trouble concentrating), emotional (e.g., more irritable than normal) and sleep-related (e.g., sleeping more or less). Signs and symptoms may not come on right away. As Dr James Robson (rugby doctor) says, “the signs and symptoms may be present straight away or they may evolve over several minutes, several hours, or two or three days. It’s important to be aware of that fact… An index of suspicion is absolutely key.”
Like any injury (e.g., ACL tear, broken bones) concussions require time and attention. Pushing too much too fast, or ignoring concussion, may elongate the recovery process and/or put the player at risk of further injuries. The graduated return to sport protocol can be a helpful guidance tool to support the stepwise recovery. Returning to normal and learning at school/work after concussion takes time too and should precede return to sport – this is often overlooked.
Responding to and managing concussion appropriately is critical for health and wellbeing and helps a player to hopefully make a timely return to learn/normal/work, sport and – important to many players, coaches and teams – pre-concussion performance levels. It is important to note that children and young people take longer to recover. There is also some evidence to suggest rates and severity of recovery in females may differ from males, although more female-specific concussion research is needed.
In the end, we all have a role to play and supporting one another is key. In the event of a potential concussion a player should not be allowed to play on or continue during practice. Instead, “If in Doubt, Sit Them Out”.
Always a good day for an #IfInDoubtSitThemOut bobble hat! More hats headed out today to PE teachers who took part in last week’s #concussion #education short-course.#TBI #awareness #teacher #coach #physicalactivity #health #wellbeing #awareness #brain #student #sport #Scotland pic.twitter.com/cmrltExMLK
— ConcussEd (@concuss_edu) February 26, 2021
For further detail about signs and symptoms and phases of recovery etc., see here as a starting point.
Also, be sure to check out our awareness video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9vTsyKWFt8&feature=emb_err_woyt