New rules to tackle concussion in NSW sports

Friday, 16 February 2018


University of Newcastle (UON) Clinical Neuropsychologist, Dr Andrew Gardner, will play a key role in protecting Australian athletes from concussion on the field, with new state-wide guidelines announced today.

As part of a NSW government grant to Sports Medicine Australia, Dr Gardner will lead a series of more than 30 community workshops aimed at increasing awareness around concussion in a bid to prevent long-term injury.

A member of the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s* Brain and Mental Health research program, Dr Gardner said he is hopeful new guidelines would increase awareness for first responders.

“The most important point is that we need to recognise when an injury may have been concussion. We don't have to make a diagnosis of concussion, we just have to ensure we’re making an informed judgement as soon as possible.

“I truly hope this work will make a difference to the understanding and management of athletes who have sustained a concussion, to ensure that the player’s short and long-term welfare is considered every time,” Dr Gardner explained.

Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres, said the NSW Government was keen to support the development of new guidelines and increase awareness across NSW.

“There is nothing tough about playing with a concussion. I encourage players, sports officials and parents to remember the three “R’s” – recognise the symptoms, remove from play and refer to a medical professional,” Mr Ayres said.

“It is not good enough that only 20% of concussions are diagnosed in local sport and I hope these new guidelines will help trigger a sector-wide culture shift.

“We are proud to have partnered with Sports Medicine Australia to develop a recommended code of practice to assist sporting codes, parents, players and trainers in NSW in recognising the early signs of a head injury.

“We also need to protect junior athletes. We know that children and adolescents can have increased susceptibility to concussion and can take longer to recover. They may also be at risk of severe consequences such as second impact syndrome,” Mr Ayres said.

*HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.