Grassroots Sport Urged to be Concussion Aware

A new charity campaign is urging grassroots and junior sports clubs across the UK to be concussion aware and take an ‘if in doubt, sit it out!’ approach to head injuries.

The Headway Concussion Aware campaign has the backing of a number of national sports governing bodies, including the FA and Rugby Football Union, as well as former professional rugby player Lewis Moody and sports concussion expert Dr Willie Stewart.

“Sport plays a key role in keeping us fit and healthy,” said Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association. “As with everyday life, however, accidents, falls and collisions can happen.

“While most injuries are obvious, the signs of concussion can often be difficult to identify and yet at Headway, we know the damage that can caused if people continue to play sport while concussed.

“A great deal has been achieved in the past few years to improve concussion protocols, with the emphasis being placed on professional sport to set a good example for others to follow.

“But we believe everyone who plays sport should be concussion aware – particularly those at grassroots level who are playing purely for the love of it and do not have ambulances and doctors on standby should something go wrong.”

Amateur and junior sports clubs, as well as academic institutions, are being encouraged to sign an online pledge stating that they take an ‘if in doubt, sit it out!’ approach to concussion.

Clubs can also take advantage of a range of free information materials about concussion on the campaign’s website at www.concussionaware.org.uk, including factsheets, posters, a digital awareness stamp for club websites, and signposting to sport-specific concussion protocols.

Former England rugby union captain Lewis Moody said: “Concussion is something that everyone who plays sport – at whatever level or intensity – should be aware of. Don’t play on regardless – you could be putting yourself in danger while also letting your teammates down.

“I urge everyone who plays sport to be concussion aware and take a no-risk approach to head injuries.”

Consultant Neuropathologist and leading sports concussion expert Dr Willie Stewart said: “There is no doubting the benefits of participating in sport. There is also no doubt that head injuries in sport are best managed by adopting an ‘If in doubt, sit it out!’ policy.

“The world of sport has made progress in recent years to address the issue of concussion, with much of the focus being on elite-level athletes. However, more needs to be done to incite a cultural change at grassroots level to ensure amateur and junior players are as well protected as professional sportspeople from the incorrect management of brain injury.

“Headway’s Concussion Aware campaign is a most welcome initiative which should encourage safe engagement in sport, while at the same time protecting people by promoting a no-risk approach to head injury.”

Please help us raise awareness of this important campaign on social media using the #ConcussionAware hashtag, sharing the campaign film, and encouraging people to pledge their support at www.concussionaware.org.uk.