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International Rugby Board Proposes Strict Concussion Protocol

The New York Times reports that the International Rugby Board (I.R.B.) has proposed strict concussion rules. Rugby considers changes to concussion rules, in recognition of the dangers of premature return to play decisions and the consequences including second impact syndrome.

The current I.R.B. rules state that a player who has suffered a concussion cannot play or train for a minimum of three weeks. They can return only once they are symptom-free and after passing a proper medical examination.

The three-week period can be reduced only if the player has been assessed by a neurological specialist, displays no symptoms and is declared fit to play by the specialist. The rule does not distinguish between professional and amateur players.

The three-week rest period is mandatory for junior rugby players regardless of whether they have seen a doctor or a specialist. They must also be symptom-free and pass a medical examination before they can return to play.

Based upon the 2008 the Zurich Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sports guidelines have been strengthened and would require that a player suspected of having a concussion would have to be removed from the field immediately and would not be able to resume play or training.

Once a concussion has been confirmed, a player will have to go through an established protocol before being allowed to return, and the rules allowing a return will be more codified.

For professional players, the timetable for a return will be flexible, but they must be under the care of a doctor or specialist. They will be tested and must be symptom-free at each stage of the process, from the initial symptoms — such as headaches or blurred vision — to resuming exercise and practice to their gradual return to play. If they still show symptoms while resuming exercise, for example, they must wait until they are symptom-free before moving on to more strenuous activities.

Once they have successfully passed through each stage, they will be passed as fit to play.

For amateur players, who make up 98 percent of the world’s playing numbers, if they do not have access to a doctor or specialist, they will face a mandatory three weeks off, and must be symptom-free and pass a proper medical before they can return to play.

But if they do have medical supervision, they can follow the same path as a professional player.

The proposed rules also emphasize the need for education of players and parents regarding the signs and symptoms of concussions and the dangers of premature return to play.



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I agree as well. Concussions should not be taken lightly and it is great that the Rugby Union and WRC are working together with this.

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