Monday, December 11, 2023

‘Urgent action’ to address concussion in sport, inquiry finds

The DCMS Committee’s inquiry into concussion in sport has concluded that “urgent action” is needed by Government and national sporting bodies to address a long-term failure to reduce the risks of brain injury on sports fields.

The DCMS had heard from a number of witnesses from sports including rugby and football ahead of its report, released on Thursday.

No hockey players were asked by the DCMS commitee, which found failings including a lack of government action on previous safety recommendations and no UK-wide minimum standard definition of concussion.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “We’ve been shocked by evidence from athletes who suffered head trauma, putting their future health on the line in the interests of achieving sporting success for the UK.

“What is astounding is that when it comes to reducing the risks of brain injury, sport has been allowed to mark its own homework.

“The failure by these sporting organisations to address the issue of acquired brain injury is compounded by a lack of action by Government.

“As concerning is grassroots sport with mass participation where we’ve found negligible effort to track brain injuries and monitor long-term impacts.”

The DCMS’ key recommendations included:

  • Government should establish UK-wide minimum standard definition for concussion that all sports must use and adapt for their sport
  • Health and Safety Executive should work with National Governing Bodies of all sports to establish a national framework for the reporting of sporting injuries
  • UK Sport should take a governance role in assuring that all sports it funds raise awareness on the dangers of concussion effectively

Peter McCabe, chief executive of the Headway charity, told the Committee during the hearings that, for many participating in grassroots and youth sports, the example set by their heroes around head injury needs to change.

He said: “Elite sports have a responsibility to set a good example to youth and grassroots sports. If concussion is not taken seriously in elite sport, that is going to be happening on a Saturday morning when youngsters are playing, where there aren’t ambulances waiting at the side of the pitch.

“Concussion must be taken seriously and if somebody sustains a bang on the head they need to be withdrawn from the field of play and you need to adopt a
precautionary approach.”

Read our comprehensive Safety in Hockey coverage

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