THE FATHER of a teenager who died after suffering a concussion during a rugby match has backed new sport guidelines on dealing with the injury.
Scotland has updated concussion guidelines for all sports played in the country which will apply to a range of sports including football, rugby, judo, shinty and netball.
The Scottish Government and sportscotland, the national agency for sport, were the first in the world to introduce a single concussion policy in 2015.
But the policy has now been updated to reflect changes to global sports concussion guidance following a meeting of experts in Berlin last year.
The updated guidelines are designed to shape a consistent, accurate message.
Concussion campaigner Peter Robinson, of Rosewell, Midlothian, sadly lost his son Ben following repeated concussions during a school rugby match.
Ben, who was only 14 when he tragically died, was treated three times for blows to the head before passing away in hospital in 2011.
Speaking at the launch of the new guidelines at Scotland’s performance centre at Edinburgh’s Oriam, Peter said a safe playing environment was vital.
He said: “It only takes one person to recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion and that could be a teammate, spectator, parent, coach or referee.
“At grassroots level we don’t have the luxury of the medical back up that professional sports do, so we all have a duty to be informed to ensure that it’s the safest playing environment possible for participants to enjoy an active lifestyle.”
Previous guidelines advised rest as the main treatment for concussion.
The advice now is that, like any other injury, the brain needs to rehabilitate rather than rest.
Young developing brains need slower rehabilitation and hence the minimum times for a return to sport are different for adults, adolescents and children.
Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith spoke on behalf of the team of experts behind the guidelines at the event.
He said: “These updated guidelines build on Scotland’s world-leading approach of creating one consistent, evidence-based policy towards concussion across all sports.
“They draw on recent international advances in the understanding of concussion and, in particular, of how to better rehabilitate people.
“The Scottish Government is committed to increasing the opportunities for people to play sport and be active.
“At the same time, the safety and well-being of all who participate is paramount and that’s why we’re reminding coaches, players and spectators that all concussions are serious.
“If there is any doubt over someone’s health or fitness to return to play, sit them out.”
The focus of the previous guidelines was on providing clear, simple guidance to coaches, officials, parents, teachers and athletes.
It aimed to ensure that a concussion can be recognised quickly and managed effectively from the initial injury to a phased return to play.
The aim is now to build on that first version and to further engage colleagues in Accident and Emergency and general practice to ensure a consistent message on concussion advice right across Scotland.
Scotland international and Sirens netball player Samantha Murphy gave her backing for the guidelines.
She said: “As an athlete, I know the benefits of taking part in sport are huge and we need to do all we can to encourage more people to take part in sport and physical activity.
“However, injuries do occur in sport. We know how important it is to treat those injuries properly and concussion is no different.
“This initiative is all about recognising the risk and changing attitudes to concussion, making the sporting environment as safe as possible for everyone taking part in sport in Scotland.”
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