Scotland launches standard sports concussion guidelines

Ben Robinson
Image caption Ben Robinson died in 2011 after getting concussion twice during a school rugby match

Scotland has become the first country in the world to introduce standard guidelines for dealing with concussion in sport.

The guidelines were launched at Hampden Park in Glasgow by Peter Robinson, whose son died after a double concussion in a school rugby match.

The new advice is meant for people involved in sport at all levels.

Until now, each sport has had its own means of dealing with head injuries sustained during play.

The guidelines have been drawn up by the Scottish government's chief medical officer, leading medics and representatives from sportscotland and several of the country's sporting bodies.

Mr Robinson, who now lives in Midlothian, has campaigned for schools and sports clubs to correctly identify concussion and to remove a player from the field at the first sign of symptoms.

His 14-year-old son Ben died in 2011 after getting concussion twice during a rugby match at Carrickfergus Grammar School in Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The overriding message is that all concussions are serious

Mr Robinson said: "Awareness of the dangers of concussion in sport is improving since we lost Ben but there's still a long way to go, both in grassroots and professional sport.

"For too long concussion has not been taken seriously, and that has to change.

"With these guidelines we want to help those involved in sport, any sport, to recognise the signs of concussion and know how to deal with it there and then.

"If you have any doubts then don't take the risk, sit them out and get them checked out."

He added: "We are not saying that you shouldn't take part in sport, far from it, there are many benefits to taking part in sport. However, there are ways to make it safer and what could be more important than that?"

The guidance is not sport-specific, but is intended for the general public and grassroots participants across all sports, particularly where medics may not be in attendance.

'Significant achievement'

Clear advice is given to ensure that concussion can be recognised quickly and managed effectively from the initial injury to a phased return to play using World Rugby's latest guidelines, with the overriding message that all concussions are serious and if in doubt, sit them out.

Dr Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, said: "It is a significant achievement to establish a single, shared set of guidelines for sports concussion management across all Scottish grassroots and amateur sports.

"Through these guidelines, we have achieved a global first, right here in Scotland. However, and more importantly for the management of concussion, we now have one definitive set of guidelines for everyone, no matter the sport or activity."

Scottish athlete Dr Andrew Murray, from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh, said: "We know that taking part in sport and physical activity has massive health benefits - helping participants be happier and healthier - but it is not without risk.

"If not recognised and managed properly, concussion can lead to health problems and can even be fatal.

"This is important for relatives, coaches, schools and health professionals amongst others to have guidance on. Recognising concussion and removing that player from the field of play for medical attention is the safe and the right thing to do."

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