Concussions are always a real and present danger in the world of sport, but – as with many distressing incidents – it’s natural for many of us to assume it’s not going to happen to us…until it does. What can your club do about it, and what are the signs and symptoms of a concussion to look out for?

The issue reared its head again recently when Australian batsman Steve Smith was taken out by a Jofra Archer bouncer. Having retired hurt, Smith was soon back at the crease when he played very strangely, for him at least, raising questions about whether he was thinking clearly and should he even have been back out there at all.

For a long time, most sports and their authorities espoused, frankly, outdated ideas about how to deal with it – and the idea that to have a concussion you need to be knocked unconscious is now widely recognised as rubbish.

Symptoms can be as seemingly innocuous as mild dizziness, so it’s vital you know what to look out for – especially if you are a parent with a child involved in sports. Even those playground collisions and clashes of heads, that seem to happen to our kids so often, need to taken seriously.

Is Your Club Equipped to Deal with Concussion

In order to minimise the risk of longer term injury to a player as a result of concussion, and to minimise your club’s risk of future liability, all grassroots sports clubs should:

  • Have a clear policy on concussion management
  • Ensure that all personnel and players are aware of the policy
  • In assessing concussion, be decisive and proactive – if in doubt, sit them out
  • Refer the player for medical examination as soon as possible
  • Document the incident
  • Ensure that the player cannot return to action until they provide a medical clearance to do so

What to look out for

Signs of concussion include disorientation, incoherent speech, memory loss, confusion, a vacant stare and, obviously, loss of consciousness. Symptoms include sensitivity to light, headaches, ringing in the ears, vomiting, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

The first thing anyone with concussion should do is rest – for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours – but there is more you can do too. Drinking plenty of water and eating well – eg fruit, veg and fish – are highly recommended, likewise avoiding white bread. sugary foods, pasta, caffeine and red meat.

We want everyone to play sport and to enjoy it, but we must all take the threat of concussion seriously. It can affect anyone playing rugby, cricket, football, hockey, netball and many more sports. Concussion for anyone playing sport can be distressing for everyone present, and it is vital we’re all as well prepared as possible for this eventuality. Check out the FA’s Concussion Guidelines for more in-depth and helpful information.

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