With the Rugby World Cup well underway, more and more talk is turning to injuries in the sport and the real danger of sustaining concussion whilst playing the game. Due to the nature of rugby, many players are under threat from sustaining a head injury and concussion.

Concussion is damage to the brain without any external damage (such as damage to the skull, scalp or any other part of the head). Symptoms can include:

  • Loss of consciousness or falling in and out of consciousness.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Problems with eyesight and vision.
  • Confusion.
  • Problems with balance or dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Dizziness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Problems with speech.
  • Concentration problems.

The majority of the symptoms of a mild concussion will resolve on their own with rest within a week. However, sometimes symptoms can be prolonged and continue being a problem.

If you have sustained an injury whilst playing rugby, it’s important that adequate steps are taken to protect your brain from further injury. Carrying on playing with a concussion can lead to severe damage to your brain, so if a head injury is suspected, you must be removed from play immediately and get a full assessment by a medical professional.

Many medical professionals approach concussion in different ways, but generally speaking, the 4 Rs should be considered. These are:

Recognise – make sure you know the signs and symptoms of a suspected concussion.

Remove – ensure the player is removed from play and not allowed to return to the pitch with a suspected head injury or concussion.

Recover – make sure a player has completely recovered from their head injury or concussion before they are allowed to return to playing rugby.

Return – ensure there is a Graduated Return to Play to ensure that players do not return too soon after an injury.

It is important that the issue of head injuries and concussion in rugby is dealt with in accordance with how serious the consequences can be. As we start to understand the seriousness of such injuries, a lot more is being done across all sports, not just in rugby to address this and better protect players from head injuries.

If you have sustained a head injury or suspected concussion whilst playing sport, it is important you receive the correct medical treatment. If you are not treated correctly and don’t give your head time to heal, you may end up with further long-term problems.