New government concussion guidance

New guidelines for recognising and managing concussion in grassroots sports have been published by the Government.

Aimed at the general public and those engaging with sport on a non-professional level, ‘If In Doubt, Sit Them Out’ is guidance with a very clear message that if an individual is suspected of having concussion, they must be immediately removed from play.

Chris Bryant MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), and the driving force behind the implementation of the Government’s ABI Strategy, said: “At long last we’re beginning to take this issue seriously. Sport is good for you but a brain injury can completely change your life. I hope every sporting organisation will take these new protocols to heart.”

UKABIF Executive Director Chloe Hayward added: “We welcome this guidance for grassroot sports clubs as it is very much needed to improve understanding and awareness of concussion. It is positive to see the Government taking the first step towards addressing the concerns raised in the DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into concussion in sport in July 2021.”

The guidance, which is aimed at players, coaches, teachers, volunteers, parents and carers, says:

·  No-one should return to competition, training or Physical Education (PE) lessons within 24 hours of a suspected concussion.

·  Anyone suspected of sustaining a concussion should be assessed by an appropriate onsite Healthcare Professional or by contacting the NHS by calling 111 within 24 hours of the injury.

While the guidance is welcomed there are concerns about the implementation of the protocols.

There are still gaps in the guidelines and there are real worries that many healthcare providers are ill equipped to recognise concussion and have little knowledge of managing concussion. We are also disappointed that the protocols do not offer specific advice for women or children – we feel that is a missed opportunity.

Chloe Hayward, UKABIF

“Through the ABI Strategy groups, we will continue to press the Government on fully recognising the dangers of concussion in sports at all levels from grassroots to elite. It is vital that the Government engages with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the best outcomes for anyone with an acquired brain injury.”

The guidance, which has been developed in partnership with medical professionals and sports governing bodies, can be found here.