A concussion is a form of TBI, or traumatic brain injury. TBIs can be caused by a number of things, such as a blow to the head from a fall or a flying object. While concussions can happen anywhere, anytime, it’s extremely common for them to happen while playing certain sports like football and rugby. The roughness of these sports can facilitate falls and other incidents that may jolt the neck and head so much that a concussion occurs.
In fact, sports are one of the leading causes of concussions in the UK.
The sad news is there are serious long-term consequences to having a concussion — even if the symptoms don’t last long, and even if there are hardly any symptoms to begin with. Even one concussion can cause serious long-term damage to the brain. Moreover, many players who have had multiple concussions are at risk for even more serious health issues in the future.
With this in mind, the UK government has been hard-pressed to find a solution — or at least to conduct a formal enquiry into the matter.
That is, until now.
Change by the autumn of 2022
By the autumn of 2022, the government has pledged to introduce an action plan that will include technological advancements that will help better prevent and treat sports concussion across the country.
This 10-point action plan was recently published by the government and includes recommendations for the development of brand-new protocols surrounding concussion in UK sport. It also includes new professional sport training protocols and new forms of sports governance. The goal at the heart of all these changes is to put the welfare of the players above the game itself.
Who is making these proposals?
Members of the DCMS or Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports Committee of backbench MPs are the ones making these proposals. The committee recently conducted an enquiry regarding sports concussion in various sports around the nation and had specific concerns regarding past failures related to the issue. The core goal of their enquiry was to request that the government devise “a precautionary approach to risk management”.
The government responded positively, stating that the committee’s enquiry was a “welcome addition” to the discussion of sports concussion in the UK. They went on to say that, “Concussion and the risks posed by head injury represents a cross-sport issue and the Government believes it is necessary to bring the sport, health, education and technology sectors together to address the issue collaboratively.”
Technological innovations may mitigate concussion effects
“Practical improvements for players by autumn 2022,” is the goal of the government at this moment in time, and they believe that technological solutions may be one of the best ways to mitigate sports concussion among players. Where concussions are unavoidable, tech companies may be able to devise solutions as well.
Right now, several pieces of technology are known to help diagnose, document, track, and treat sports concussion. Many of these technologies have to do with the eyes and vision. For example, certain glasses can be worn to mitigate and treat symptoms related to light sensitivity. Likewise, tech-based therapy systems can help determine areas of impairment and even treat them in many cases.
Will government involvement be enough?
Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, a head injury charity, is concerned that the government’s response won’t be enough hello. “This response is a little underwhelming,” he stated and reiterated the need for urgency. McCabe believes immediate action is needed and has even gone so far as to put the responsibility at the grassroots level. “We need an evolution of attitude when it comes to head injuries in sport,” he said.