Concussion tests get green light
August 20, 2012
Wales fly-half Stephen Jones is checked for signs of concussion during the 2011 Six Nations © Getty Images
The forthcoming Aviva Premiership season will be used as a testing ground for the International Rugby Board's (IRB) newly-developed concussion procedures.
Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed on Monday that the Pitch-Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) would be in use throughout the new campaign following successful trials at age-grade international competitions.
Under the procedure, players are permitted to leave the field for five minutes to undergo a series of tests if a suspected concussion has occurred - with a replacement temporarily taking the field as in the case of a blood bin.
The referee will signal - via three taps to the head and through his communications device - that a player has been sent for tests, including a review of any possible symptoms, a series of cognitive questions and balance exercises. Should a player present any signs of concussion, fail a question or suffer four or more lapses in balance, they will be permanently removed from the game.
All tests will take place at a pre-arranged place and temporary replacements will not be permitted to take kicks at goal, minimising the chances of the procedures being manipulated.
"Consistently identifying players with confirmed concussion and removing them from the field of play to prevent their exposure to further head impacts is a real challenge," RFU head of sports medicine Simon Kemp said.
"Both the limited time available and the in-game environment where the player is typically focussed on the next play rather than a medical assessment are obstacles to implementing best practice. The PSCA process will allow us to address an important player welfare and safety issue whilst maintaining the fabric of the game by keeping 15 players on the pitch and minimising any chance for manipulation."
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