International Rugby Board and its Member Unions to Review Concussion Policy

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International Rugby Board and its Member Unions to Review Concussion Policy

The International Rugby Board (IRB) and its Member Unions have “reaffirmed their commitment to ensure best-practice concussion management procedure delivery by undertaking a full review of the first year of the application of the Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA) protocols.”

The PSCA is designed to give teams and match doctors time to assess cases in which concussion is not immediately apparent. The IRB believes that “since its introduction as a global trial in 2012, (it) has proven highly successful, leading to 25 percent more players being removed from the field of play permanently following a head impact.”

The review will be overseen by the PSCA Working Group, which will assess the protocol’s “functionality and compliance, obtain feedback from team doctors and collectively ensure that the correct procedures are followed to ensure clear and consistent management of suspected concussion cases and further enhance best-practice delivery.”

Specifically, the PSCA allows team doctors to make an assessment in a quiet situation within a five minute interval. This calm environment away from the field of play and the pressures that come with operating in the middle of an incredibly noisy and often pressurized on-field situation hopefully will contribute to more accurate assessments, according to the IRB.

“The PSCA is intended to be a supportive tool for physicians in the elite Game,” said IRB Chief Medical Officer Martin Raftery. “If a player is clearly displaying the signs of concussion, that player must be removed from the field of play and should not return to play.

“Concussion management is at the very heart of the IRB’s player welfare strategies and the message to players, coaches and parents is clear – if in doubt, sit it out.

“Our Member Unions have supported the PSCA process and recognize the enormous benefits that the PSCA process delivers in this important area of player welfare,” he added.

“All head injury incidents occurring within the PSCA trial are logged by the IRB Game Analysis unit for assessment. This review one year on from implementation will enable us to work with the physicians to review all the cases, identify practice learnings and reinforce the importance of following the correct procedures.”

Raftery continued: “The area of concussion is highly emotive and diagnosis is complex, especially in the heat of the battle, and the PSCA was developed in line with international best practice to assist doctors and give them the best possible platform to assess their players when it is unclear whether concussion is apparent.

“All the evidence suggests that the PSCA is proving to be a very effective tool to protect our players and team physicians are twice as likely to remove players from the field of play than independent medics, but we can and will continue to review and improve our practices to ensure that we are collectively doing all we can.”