Australia’s leading sports medicine experts have launched Concussion in Sport Australia’s position statement and website concussioninsport.gov.au and are urging athletes, coaches and parents across all levels of sport to heed the message “if in doubt, sit them out”.
The message is part of a position statement which brings together the most contemporary evidence-based information on concussion for athletes, parents, teachers, coaches and medical practitioners. “There is growing concern in Australia and internationally about the incidence of sport-related concussion and the potential health ramifications for athletes at all levels of sport,” said AIS Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes. “The website provides a valuable and trusted resource for the management of sports-related concussion for all Australians, regardless of the sport, location or level of participation,” Dr Hughes said. Concussion in Sport Australia is an initiative of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA). ACT Brumbies and Australian Rugby 7s player Tom Cusack, who has suffered multiple concussions during his career, is urging athletes, coaches, parents and support staff at all levels to ensure participant’s health is the number one priority. “As a professional athlete, I know the importance of a player’s health – it should be the focus of all sporting organisations,” Cusack said. “Concussion is an issue in sport that must be taken seriously. Everyone, from kids at the grassroots through to professional athletes should feel comfortable to put their hand up and say ‘I am not okay’. There’s nothing tough about playing on with concussion.” More than 40 sport and medical organisations have endorsed and supported the position statement, including Rugby Australia, Football Federation Australia, Cycling Australia, Basketball Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee. Concussion in Sport Australia is also urging the public to recognise that concussion is not confined to elite sport, and is a broader public health issue. AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said everyone needed to play a part in reducing the impact of concussion. “The first step is to understand how to identify the symptoms and when to seek medical support,” said Dr Bartone. “If managed properly, most symptoms and signs of concussion resolve spontaneously. However, complications can occur, including increased susceptibility to further injury. That’s why the ‘sit it out’ message is so crucial, and anyone returning to sport following concussion should get medical clearance to do so.” The full position statement can be found on the website, along with videos, fact sheets, online training and other practical resources.