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Concussion in grassroots sport to be tracked by UK government | Concussion in sport


The UK government is to conduct a two-year programme of research into concussion in grassroots sport, using an app to track the symptoms of injury and their treatment. With the potential to provide unprecedented insight into the prevalence of head injuries within amateur sport, the trial will be open to any grassroots organisation.

Data will ultimately be used to assess the effectiveness of the Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport, new rules announced this year by the government and the Sports and Recreation Alliance.

The sports minister, Stuart Andrew, encouraged grassroots teams and clubs to take part in the trial. “Sport is vital to our physical and mental wellbeing so it is crucial that we do all we can to prioritise safety for all involved,” he said. “Alongside our guidance, technology has an important role to play in tracking and measuring the incidence of concussion at a grassroots level.”

The free app to be used in the study is SportSmart. Described by its creators, the sports injury charity Podium Analytics, as a digital platform that “enables risk management and injury prevention” at school and sports clubs, the app has 165,000 users in the UK. One of its central functions is a “concussion recognition and symptom severity tool”, which operates alongside a traffic light system to notify coaches or teachers of a suspected concussion.

Andy Hunt, the chief executive of Podium Analytics, said the app had been built with the intention of filling a void in the reporting of head injuries at grassroots level. “Only 2% of UK schools and grassroots sports clubs have a system for recording and managing sport-related concussion,” he said. “For organisations to successfully implement the new government concussion guidelines, a centralised digital system to record and manage head injury incidences is needed.”

In April the government published its first guidance on the treatment of concussion in grassroots sport. Applying the general rule of “if in doubt, sit it out”, the guidance urged coaches, teachers and referees to immediately remove anyone with a suspected concussion from the field of play and to have players assessed by a healthcare professional.

According to the guidelines, anyone who sustains a concussion should not play contact sport for 21 days and should not return to any form of training for 14 days. Among the signs and symptoms of concussion listed by the guidance include: disorientation, dizziness, mental clouding, visual problems, “pressure in head” and sensitivity to light and sound.

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The guidelines state: “Spotting head impacts and visible clues of concussion can be difficult in fast moving sports. It is the responsibility of everyone – players, coaches, teachers, referees, spectators, and families – to watch out for individuals with suspected concussion and ensure that they are immediately removed from play.”

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