New concussion protocol

Fri, 10 Aug 2012 13:38
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The South African Rugby Union will trial new IRB player safety protocols in the Currie Cup Premier Division, which kicks off on Friday night when the Blue Bulls host Griquas at Loftus Versfeld.

The South African Rugby Union will trial new IRB player safety protocols in the Currie Cup Premier Division, which kicks off on Friday night when the Blue Bulls host Griquas at Loftus Versfeld.

Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) Protocols will be in place as part of a global initiative designed to enhance player welfare with improved concussion management of elite players.

Eyebrows have been raised recently when Gio Aplon and then Bismarck du Plessis continued playing in Super Rugby despite blows to the head, severe enough to render them unconscious for a while.

The PSCA works like the blood bin. Players suspected to be suffering from concussion are removed from the field to take a standardised objective assessment test. If a “suspected concussion” is confirmed IRB Regulation 10 applies and the player is removed from the remainder of the match. The test takes no more than five minutes.

The recommendation to remove the player can be made by the referee, the independent match day doctor or the player’s team doctor.

The PSCA was successfully applied in the recent Junior World Cup in South Africa. Five players underwent the test; two were cleared to return to play and the other three were permanently replaced.

The temporary replacement for a player undergoing the PSCA protocols may not take penalty kicks or conversion kicks at goal during the five minutes he is allowed to be on the field. When the replacement becomes permanent he may kick at goal as normal.

IRB Chief Medical Officer Martin Raftery said the medical teams of rugby would play a key role.

“For the first time we are able to deliver a standardised procedure of assessment that replaces an on-field ‘on the run’ assessment and is based on medical best practice. It provides an extra layer of protection for our players and delivers the ability for the match doctor and the team doctor to make an assessment in a controlled environment,” he said.

"It is important to remember that these trials will only operate at the elite level of the game where there are experienced doctors present.”

SARU’s current BokSmart and IRB concussion regulations and guidelines apply for players at the non-elite level.

If a player is clearly concussed or demonstrates signs and symptoms of possible concussion – then a concussion is suspected and the player must be removed for the remainder of the match.

The ‘Return To Play’ guidelines must be implemented before this player is allowed to return to contact/match rugby.

These guidelines and much more information on concussion and concussion management can be found on the BokSmart website or on the IRB’s website under Player Welfare

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs

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