Concussion – and its alarming potential for long-term damage – is making headlines in many sports and around the world.
Over the long weekend viewers witnessed three severe concussions in two out of three football codes.
South Sydney duo Issac Luke and Glenn Stewart were both concussed during their battle with the Bulldogs last week and neither returned to the field. Twenty-four hours later, Sydney Swan Luke Parker also copped a knock after colliding with teammate Lance Franklin.
But concussion is not confined to senior ranks. Many parents have seen the sickening results of hard play on the local sports ground.
With most junior sport under way or resuming after the Easter break, The Newsroom investigates how concussion is handled in Australia’s junior football codes.
The concern is whether or not there should be a blanket policy across all codes to minimise harm to players, protecting clubs and their futures.
The Newsroom learnt the Australian Rugby Union concussion protocol is implemented nationwide.
The president of Sydney Junior Rugby Union, Kerry Brady, spoke to the Newsroom last week about the ARU’s protocol.
If a child is suspected of receiving a concussion he or she is immediately removed from play, assessed by a qualified senior first aid officer and immediately sent to a GP or hospital for further tests.
“We have stressed to all our presidents, coaches and managers that they are breaching protocol if they allow a child back who hasn’t had his mandatory two weeks off after being symptom free and hasn’t been cleared by a doctor,” said Brady.
Brady said members from junior clubs were given a presentation from Dr Steve Freedman, the team doctor for the NSW Waratahs. “Everybody in attendance receives handouts and we are making [the service] available for all Sydney clubs.”
Clubs are expected to follow the ARU protocol, but the Sydney Junior Rugby Union association is looking to take a stronger stance, setting the benchmark for player protection.
The union is looking to implement a club reporting system for players who have been concussed, to help clubs ensure they are not listed to play the next week.
It’s early days and the system is still being refined, but it appears to be a practical approach that could be applied to all sporting codes across the country. – Marc Summers
Top photo from Naparazzi’s Flick photostream.