Concussion Best Practice

Our responsibility at Yale is to place great emphasis on the safety of our players at all times. This includes best practice procedures in all areas of the program. From technique in the gym, to tackling form on the field, our aim is to create the safest environment possible for our players to grow, while following the guidelines set out by World Rugby.

However, we must also place great emphasis on what to do if a head injury does occur, either at training or in a game. The following information sets our concussion protocol: recognize and remove.

After a concussion occurs, it is important to measure how well your brain functions post-injury. Knowing this information can assist in planning an effective rehabilitation program. However, comprehensive concussion management starts before the injury actually occurs. As a result, a valid Baseline Concussion Test is the first step to effective concussion management. This test will be carried out during pre season camp at the end of August. The following document outlines the return to play protocol for a Yale Rugby player.

How to Recognize a Concussion

If any of the following signs or symptoms are present following an injury, the player should be suspected of having a concussion and immediately removed from play or training. 

  • Dazed, blank or vacant look in the player.

  • Lying motionless on ground/slow to get up.

  • Unsteady on feet/balance problems or falling over/incoordination.

  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness.

  • Confused/not aware of plays or events.

  • Grabbing/clutching of head.

  • Seizure (fits).

  • More emotional/Irritable than normal for that person.

Symptoms of concussion - what you are told

Presence of any one or more of the following signs and symptoms may suggest a concussion:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Mental clouding, confusion, or feeling slowed down

  • Visual problems

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Drowsiness/feeling like “in a fog“/difficulty concentrating

  • “Pressure in head”

  • Sensitivity to light or noise

On-field management of a suspected concussion at training or during a match

Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM PLAY using appropriate emergency management procedures. Once safely removed from play, the injured player must not be returned to activity that day and until they are assessed medically. If a neck injury is suspected, the player should only be removed by emergency healthcare professionals with appropriate spinal care training. Teammates, coaches, match officials, team managers, administrators or parents who suspect a player may have concussion MUST do their best to ensure that the player is removed from the field of play in a safe manner.

Sideline management of a suspected concussion

Athletes with a suspected concussion:

  • Should not be left alone in the first 24 hours

  • Should not drive a motor vehicle and should not return to driving until provided with medical or healthcare professional clearance or, if no medical or healthcare professional advice is available, should not drive until symptom free

If ANY of the following are reported, then the player should be transported for urgent medical assessment at the nearest hospital:

  • Athlete complains of severe neck pain

  • Deteriorating consciousness (more drowsy)

  • Increasing confusion or irritability

  • Severe or increasing headache

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Unusual behavior change

  • Seizure (fit)

  • Double vision

  • Weakness or tingling/burning in arms or legs

In all cases of suspected concussion, it is recommended that the player is referred to a medical or healthcare professional for diagnosis and guidance, even if the symptoms resolve. Managing a concussion or suspected concussion -

Rest the Body, Rest the Brain

Rest is the cornerstone of concussion treatment. This involves resting the body - ‘physical rest’ - and resting the brain - ‘cognitive rest’.

This means avoidance of:

  • Physical activities such as running, cycling, swimming, etc

  • Cognitive activities, such as school work, homework, reading, television, video games, etc

This complete rest should be for a minimum of 24 hours. Before restarting activity, the player must be symptom free at rest. Medical or approved healthcare provider clearance is recommended before restarting activity.