Department for Communities has endorsed new UK-wide Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport aimed at protecting the wellbeing of young athletes in Northern Ireland.
The guidance, which leads with the call to action 'If In Doubt, Sit Them Out', was published by the UK Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Friday, 28th April.
The recommendations are aimed at participants, school age and upwards, in sporting environments where healthcare professionals are typically not available to manage incidences of potential concussion.
Welcoming the development, Department for Communities Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle described the new advice as "timely, thorough and comprehensive."
"I am fully supportive of the new DCMS guidance which provides important information on how to recognise the early signs of concussion and how it should be managed.
"This advice is timely, thorough and comprehensive. The message is also clear. At all levels in all sports, anyone suspected of having a concussion must be immediately removed from play.
"I know Sport NI will be working with our sports and their governing bodies to raise awareness of the new guidance and encourage best practice when it comes to protecting players across all of our pitches, courts and playing fields in Northern Ireland."
The guidelines, which are available to read on via the Sport and Recreation Alliance website: www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/policy/research-publications/concussion-guidelines, detail several key points, including:
- That at all levels in all sports, if a participant is suspected of having a concussion, they must be immediately removed from play.
- The threshold for suspecting concussion and removal from play is the presence of one sign or symptom associated with concussion, including headache, feeling dazed or confused, feeling drowsy, sick, irritable, having difficulty remembering things and any other change in normal behaviour.
- Anyone suspected of sustaining a concussion should be assessed by a healthcare professional as soon as possible; and
- If there is no healthcare professional on site, the 111 Service should be accessed, unless 999 has been called due to concerns about other significant injuries or the presence of 'red flags' which are detailed in the guidance.
The new guidance will complement the Department for Communities' own digital guidance hub concussionni.net which was developed by the Sport NI Sports Institute and aimed at assisting users across the sports sector, primarily through the recognition and management of concussion, to the gradual and safe return to work, study and sport.