The father of a Carrickfergus schoolboy who died in a rugby game has extended his concussion awareness campaign to Scotland.
New guidance on how to manage concussion sustained during grassroots sport was launched at the Scottish sports and exercise medicine symposium at Hampden.
If you have any doubts then don’t take the risk, sit them out and get them checked outPeter Robinson
Peter Robinson and the Scottish Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, were joined by senior medics from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scottish Football Association, Scottish Rugby Union, and the sportscotland institute of sport, who have all worked collaboratively to produce the guidelines.
For the first time the guidance is not sport-specific, but is intended for the general public and grassroots participants across all sports, particularly where medics may not be in attendance.
Peter, whose 14-year-old son Ben died in 2011 as a result of sustaining a double concussion during a school rugby match, said: “Awareness of the dangers of concussion in sport is improving since we lost Ben but there’s still a long way to go, both in grassroots and professional sport. For too long concussion has not been taken seriously, and that has to change.
“With these guidelines we want to help those involved in sport, any sport, to recognise the signs of concussion and know how to deal with it there and then. If you have any doubts then don’t take the risk, sit them out and get them checked out.”
“We are not saying that you shouldn’t take part in sport, far from it, there are many benefits to taking part in sport. However there are ways to make it safer and what could be more important than that?”
A team of eminent sports medics worked together to produce the guidelines, which they hope will enable those involved in sport at every level to understand how to respond to suspected concussion and reduce the risks, particularly for children and young adults.
Dr Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, is the driving force behind bringing everyone together on this project: “It is a significant achievement to establish a single, shared set of guidelines for sports concussion management across all Scottish grassroots and amateur sports.”
Scottish international athlete Dr Andrew Murray, from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and University of Edinburgh, added: “These guidelines are crystal clear. We need to take concussion seriously and remove anyone with a suspected concussion from the field of play: if in doubt, sit them out.”
Also attending the launch was Dr Niall Elliott from the sportscotland institute of sport, who said: “What this guide is designed to do, is to simplify the guidelines already in place so that they can be easily understood and implemented by members of the public. The ultimate aim is to make sports participation safer, irrespective of what sport that is or where it is played.”
Ben’s parents Karen and Peter have been to the fore in raising awareness of the dangers associated with concussion. In spring of last year, they joined Northern Ireland Education Minister John O’Dowd and Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín to unveil a leaflet and poster campaign with the message that recognising the signs of concussion and removing children from the field of play can save lives.
The Scottish guidelines are available on the sportscotland website at: www.sportscotand.org.uk/concussion