From theconversation.com, authored by Jeff Caron and Andrew Bennie.

Athletes who play collision sports, like rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules football, are at increased risk of concussion.

Although the injury has become recognised as a public health concern, alarmingly, Sports Medicine Australia noted that:

… there is no routine monitoring or reporting of sport-related concussion in Australia and the incidence of sport-related concussion in Australia, especially at the population level, is unknown.

What can we do to help keep athletes safe from concussion?

Coaches can be key to promoting a supportive environment when it comes to concussion safety and prevention. This is because coaches are among the most influential individuals in an athlete’s life.

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Their role extends beyond teaching technical and tactical aspects of sport, as they play an integral role in athletes’ health, well-being and personal development.

However, researchers have found that coaches lack knowledge about concussions.

For example, an Australian study found that community coaches, who play a fundamental role in young people’s initial experiences and safety in sport, were unclear about the common signs and symptoms, management and return-to-activity guidelines associated with sport-related concussions.

The CAC developed a series of online modules aimed at educating coaches about concussions to help them better ensure athletes’ safety in training and competition.

However, coaches are not required to complete the modules to gain accreditation. The extent to which these modules have improved athletes’ safety from concussions is also not clear.

Similarly, the Australian Sports Commission provides coaches with general information about injuries on its website, but there is little to no information on concussions.

Some independent sporting bodies, such as the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League, have more detailed information about concussion management for their coaches. However, this type of information does not appear to be a mandatory part of their coach education, nor does it appear to be widely available for Australian coaches in other sporting disciplines.

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This indicates that important concussion messages are not reaching coaches, which suggests coach certification agencies need to do more to ensure coaches are appropriately educated about the injury, recovery and management processes.

ConcussionAWARE is a series of essential steps to provide education and awareness to coaches, teachers, students and parents on how to identify concussion symptoms and to understand the importance of speaking up about brain injuries. For more information click here.

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