Whangarei Boys’ High School First XV captain Caleb Boswell-Smith is given a concussion baseline test by New Zealand Rugby’s Dr Danielle Salmon. Photo/Andrew Johnsen

Dr Danielle Salmon led a concussion education clinic at Whangarei Boys’ High School as part of a New Zealand Rugby initiative.

A concussion is a disturbance in brain function caused by a direct or indirect force
to  the  head.

Dr Salmon talked to members of the school’s first XV about concussion, what to do following a concussion and emphasised the importance of reporting a concussion.

She also talked about the test they want to implement to make assessing concussions easier.
“HIA (Head Injury Assessment) occurs at the Super Rugby level but we use the SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) which takes about 10 minutes to administer and these usually can only be done by medical professionals,” she said.

“We’ve taken components from it to make it a bit simpler so I could give it to anyone and with a little bit of coaching they’d be able to do a team quickly.”

The protocol is derived from the SCAT model and tests players in a multitude of areas.

These include concussion symptoms such as nausea, headaches and neck pain, basic questions about the date, memory tests, brain function tests and a tandem gate.

The tandem gait assesses coordination and balance. A three metre piece of tape is marked out and the player has to go to the end and back on the line heel to toe in under 14 seconds.

WBHS First XV captain Caleb Boswell-Smith was part of the group learning from Dr Salmon.

He said it was a really important lesson considering he knew relatively little about concussions to begin with.

“I think it’s really good for us young players to learn about the symptoms and things related to concussion. It’s a huge benefit for themselves and for other players in their team if they see a concussion,” he said.

“To be honest I didn’t know too many symptoms before listening to the seminar but it’s great that I know a bit more now and can help out others.”

Northland has been a big proponent of concussion-related issues, having introduced the blue card system to junior and club rugby.

Dr Salmon spent much of the lesson on the “Four R’s” which are vital components in identifying suspected concussion on the field: recognise, remove, recovery and return.

She also stated a suspected victim shouldn’t be moved until they know their wasn’t a neck or spinal injury.

Dr Salmon said this system is something they want used nationwide.

“Ideally, long-term, we’d love to see this in all high schools,” she said.

“It makes sure that players going back to any sort of contact training are ready and this process will help doctors when getting them back on the field.

“The kids may say they’re fine but it gives them a way to make sure they and their doctor know they are good to go back.”

The lesson will have been taught to 31 high schools across the country by Friday, with Northland’s Kaitaia College, Kerikeri High School and Dargaville High School also holding seminars.

Source: Northern Advocate


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