Planet Rugby

IRB revamp concussion protocols

20th May 2014 07:40

Share:

mike tindall gloucester concussion

Enhancement: Concussion rules

The IRB has reaffirmed its commitment to player welfare with the announcement of enhancements to the pitch-side head injury assessment process for elite Rugby.

The latest IRB-commissioned research into the pitch-side assessment of head injuries in elite Rugby conducted in 2012-13 has seen a drop in the number of concussed players returning to the field of play.

Accepted for publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study highlights that prior to the global trial of the Pitch-side Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA) tool 56 percent of players assessed and left on the field of play were later determined to have sustained a concussion.

Since the PSCA trial began in 2012 the percentage has reduced to 13 percent with this reduction attributed to the combined strategy of education and implementation of the research-driven assessment.

Despite these positive results the IRB is committed to driving cultural change within the sport and further reducing the percentage.

Data from the trial has also enabled the IRB's independent concussion working group to identify enhancements to the PSCA tool, which is used to assess a player when the diagnosis of a head injury is unclear. If symptoms are evident the message remains recognise and permanently remove the player - the PSCA tool should not be used.

Two components of the PSCA tool have been expanded, with the memory test strengthened and the balance test altered, enhancing the information team and independent doctors have available to them when making a return to play decision.

In order to accommodate the expanded PSCA components and following a successful pilot trial, the IRB Executive Committee has approved an increase in the time permitted to undertake the assessment from five to 10 minutes. The new trial will operate from June 1.

"Concussion management and education sits at the very top of the IRB's player welfare strategies aimed at informing, supporting and protecting players at all levels of the game," said IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper.

"The IRB centres its player welfare policies on evidence-based research and we are delighted that the data from this trial indicates we are making strong progress while informing the areas where we can continue to learn, improve and ultimately drive forward player welfare best-practice.

"Concussion is a serious public health issue that affects many sports. The PSCA has proven a successful part of our long-term commitment to educating and protecting players at all levels and driving cultural change."

"As a process for the elite Game, the pitch-side assessment covers less than 0.5 per cent of the 6.6 million men, women and children playing Rugby worldwide and our key message to the community Game remains recognise and remove."

The enhanced protocol comes with the full support of Unions and the world's top players.

"I applaud the significant steps that Rugby is taking in the area of head injury management. It is reassuring that the IRB is using research to drive forward policies and resources that protect and educate players at every level," said England full-back Mike Brown.

"It is great to see Rugby leading the way in the critical area of concussion management, an aspect of the game we must continually look to improve," said International Rugby Players' Association Executive Director Rob Nichol.

"The ability to remove a player from the field of play to allow a decent clinical assessment, and the introduction of the PSCA test to support that process has proven a positive development for the welfare of our elite players."

"The requirement that if at any time a player in the elite Game displays the symptoms associated with suspected concussion, or fails the PSCA test, he must be permanently removed is clear. These refinements will further enhance the standard of care for elite players and coupled with strong education, continue to drive cultural change throughout the game."

Meanwhile, the IRB and Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) immediately requested a report into apparent failure to apply the IRB head-injury protocols that led to Toulouse player Florian Fritz returning to the field of play during the Top 14 match against Racing Métro on May 9.

  • Aviva Prem Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
  • Aviva Prem Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
Saturday , September 13
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh 0 - 52 ExeterLondon Welsh vs Exeter Report
Saturday , September 6
Sale Sharks 20 - 29 BathSale Sharks vs Bath Report
Saracens 34 - 28 WaspsSaracens vs Wasps Report
Leicester 36 - 17 NewcastleLeicester vs Newcastle Report
More Aviva Premiership results
  • Aviva Prem Table
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26