Concussion is an impairment of the brain’s function caused by a violent shake of the brain - a very real risk in rugby league.
It happens via an intentional or accidental collision to the body or head that causes the brain to shake violently, often into the inside of the skull.
What are the symptoms?
- Loss of consciousness
- Feeling sick
- Confusion of orientation
- Memory loss
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
How is it assessed?
Via symptoms, memory, balance, reaction time and orientation testing.
- Be honest about the symptoms
- Notify a trainer/doctor as soon as they occur
- Be accepting of the rules towards concussion
- Do not to influence the course of the concussion protocol
- Ensure the players’ safety is the only priority
- There is no physical evidence of a concussion apart from the symptoms
- It cannot be detected via any medical scans as the injury is impairment to the function of the brain
Return to play process
- Complete physical and mental rest until symptoms subside
- Return to light training (non-contact)
- Return to full training (non-contact)
- Return to full training and contact activities
- Return to play
If any symptoms re-appear in any of the levels the player must return to the previous step and only proceed to the next step once it is successfully completed. In no circumstances should a level be skipped.
The science of concussion
Experts define concussion as a head injury with temporary loss of brain function, which can cause cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms. Concussion may also be defined as an injury to the brain generally caused by a jolt or blow to the head – in the majority of cases the individual does not lose consciousness.
The brain floats in cerebral fluid which protects it from jolts and bumps. A violent jolt or a severe blow to the head can cause the brain to bump hard against the skull. This can result in the tearing of fibre nerves as well as blood vessel ruptures under the skull, leading to an accumulation of blood.
There is research which suggests that concussion, especially repeated concussion, can lead to a whole host of problems: memory loss, dizzy spells, clinical depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ringing in the ears, persistent headaches and more.
No longer can we see players suffer through the symptoms of concussion and allow them to play on.