As final preparations are made for the Rugby World Cup, one of the region’s leading medical law solicitors is calling for better education about head injuries.
Sally-Ann Robinson, who specialises in medical negligence at Langleys Solicitors, which has offices in York and Lincoln, said that training to recognise the signs of head injury is crucial, particularly in the wake of high-profile head injuries sustained by rugby players in a Six Nations match earlier this year, and those suffered by racing drivers Michael Schumacher, the late Jules Bianchi and most recently Justin Wilson.
Sally-Ann said: “Head injuries in sport have come under the spotlight in recent months, and for some time now rugby union has taken the lead in educating all involved about head injury.
“However, the Six Nations game between Wales and England, where George North was allowed to remain in play despite being knocked out following a second serious blow to the head, showed a clear departure from what we have come to expect of the sport.
“There has to be a commitment to improving awareness across all sports. Of course, accidents will always happen. There will never be zero risk. But it is vital that when they do happen, everything is done to minimise the consequences.
Saracens Rugby Club recently developed a patch behind the ear which assesses head impact. It is hoped that this will provide even more information, which will improve safety standards.
Sally-Ann added: “Concussion is sometimes thought of as a minor injury by the general public, but it can result in serious, life changing consequences. It can be a developing injury and symptoms can manifest over time.
“If a sportsperson is suspected of sustaining a head injury they should always be removed from play and assessed immediately by a medical professional. Because symptoms can take time to show, it is always best to abide by the mantra ‘if in doubt, sit it out.’
“Our message is simple – enjoy your sport but never lose sight of the fact that an apparently minor head injury can have serious consequences, particularly if not assessed and treated immediately.”