The Government and the Sport and Recreation Alliance has today (28 April 2023) published the first UK-wide Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport which will help players, coaches, parents, schools, National Governing Bodies and sports administrators to identify, manage and prevent the issue.
The guidelines, developed by an expert panel of domestic and international clinicians and academics in neurology and sports medicine, sets out steps to improve understanding and awareness of the prevention and treatment of concussion in grassroots sport where trained medical professionals are less likely to be routinely present. It is targeted at people of all ages.
‘If in doubt, sit them out’ is the strapline, making clear no-one should return to sport within 24 hours of a suspected concussion and builds on guidance already introduced in Scotland.
Players, parents, coaches, teachers and administrators are now asked to read the guidance and familiarise themselves with the necessary steps to:
In addition, a graduated return to activity such as work, education and sport is advised to reduce the risks of slow recovery, further brain injury and longer-term problems. Individuals should be assessed by an appropriate healthcare professional if symptoms persist for more than four weeks.
ECB Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Nick Peirce MBE said: "The ECB welcomes the guidelines and the robust process undertaken to produce them. In conjunction with the other leading sports and National Governing Bodies, the ECB will look to implement these guidelines across grassroots and recreational cricket.
"Professional cricket, and those supported by appropriate medical care, can follow the ECB Concussion Guidelines 2018, which will be updated following the Amsterdam consensus later this year.
"The key points for cricket in these new guidelines relate to the increased timescale now recommended for graded return, the importance of asymptomatic gentle exercise early on and careful resumption of education as well as return to sport.
"Whilst cricket does not have the likelihood of further concussion seen in some activities, it is important that when they do occur that there is sufficient recovery time before the risk of a further event. Thus, following a suspected concussion, a graded return will be asked to extend to 21 days, as a minimum, before returning to full competition and unrestricted training."
Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: "Sport keeps us healthy and active but it is not without risk and major injuries to the head can and do happen.
"Research has shown the importance of fast and effective tailored treatment and we are issuing expert guidance to help people spot and treat head injuries. Whether used in a local leisure centre during a swimming lesson or on a village green during a cricket match, the guidance will make a real difference to people’s lives."[/b]
The move meets a commitment set out in the Government’s Action Plan on Concussion in 2021 to introduce a national approach to prevent concussion and brain injury in sport, and to do so through a combination of improved research and new technologies.
It follows increasing focus on the long-term negative health effects from brain injury and concussion sustained while playing sport. This is linked to advances in training, coaching, equipment and technology which have led to stronger, faster and better-trained players at all levels.
Development of the guidelines has been led by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, Professor James Calder, chair of the expert drafting group, and Laurence Geller, the Government's Adviser on Concussion in Sport. The expert drafting group drew upon existing field research, with the aim of producing a consistent and preventative approach across all sports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.