Concussion dominates injury audit
March 22, 2013
Northampton's Stephen Myler writhes in agony with a knee injury but concussion is the most comming complaint in the Aviva Premiership © Getty Images
English rugby chiefs have revealed that concussion is the most common injury in the Aviva Premiership.
The England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project, the most comprehensive and longest-running injury surveillance study in elite rugby covering both the Premiership and England internationals and training as well as games, has revealed that during the 2011-12 season there were less match injuries, although an increase in the average severity and subsequent enforced absences, with the majority of those suffered in the league being concussion.
Dr Simon Kemp, Head of Sports Medicine at the Rugby Football Union and chair of the England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project Steering Group that produced the report, said: "The study findings show that the injury risk in professional rugby in England remains stable but there is still potential to further reduce the risk of injury, particularly during training - a potentially controllable environment where a third of all injuries currently occur.
"While concussion is now the most common Aviva Premiership Rugby match injury, this is as a result of a decrease in other injuries. We have worked hard to ensure that we have a world-leading concussion management policy in place. Awareness of the importance of the correct management of the concussed player continues to grow, the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment trial is working well and we are specifically studying the time course of players' recovery from concussion this season to ensure that our guidelines and advice to players can be properly evidence based."
This season the Premiership has been used as a testing ground for the International Rugby Board's (IRB) newly-developed concussion procedures which Phil Winstanley, rugby director at Premiership Rugby, believes that is a reflection of the work done by the sport's leading medics.
"Whilst concussion injuries have now become the most common injury, our knowledge in this area has allowed us to act quickly and introduce the new PSCA trial, allowing our medics to properly assess players away from the field of play and away from the emotions of the match," he said.
"Initial results are encouraging and it must only be a matter of time before this becomes commonplace in all competitions. The progress which has been made in rugby union in the sports medicine area in the past few years has been significant and credit must go to the Injury Audit Steering Group for the quality of this report and to all the medical teams from the Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs and the national team for this progress."
The Rugby Players' Association (RPA), who also co-authors of the report, welcomed the results with rugby manager David Barnes promising action to address the issue of concussion. "The Rugby Players' Association (RPA) remains committed to working with all parties to ensure that, where possible, injury risks to our members playing the game are monitored and effective strategies are developed to reduce risks to their welfare," he said.
"It is concerning that concussion is now the most prevalent injury recorded by the survey. The RPA welcome the new PSCA guidelines which have been introduced this season and urge this protocol to be expanded to all competitions as a matter of urgency. The RPA and its specialist independent medical advisors will prioritise work to understand how we can reduce the occurrence of this injury, in addition to researching any long-term impacts of head injuries."
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