World Rugby will join other international sporting federations and leading independent experts to participate in the fifth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport in Berlin today and tomorrow, with Chairman Bill Beaumont attending as part of the delegation.
Concussion education, prevention, management and research is a major priority for World Rugby and strong progress is being made on and off the field to educate, change culture and further enhance the protection of players at all levels of a sport played by 7.73 million men, women and children worldwide.
The Berlin conference, financially supported and organized by World Rugby, the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Fédération Equestre Internationale, highlights World Rugby’s ongoing commitment to cross-sport collaboration and standards and is designed to review and standardise on-field concussion management in sport.
The conference will bring together independent experts, bodies and representatives from the participating sports to consider a summary of new evidence-based research that covers all aspects of concussion including definition, management, investigations, treatment, return to play protocols, prevention, and knowledge transfer and develop the consensus from the detailed information considered at the meeting.
With information presented by the world’s experts and researchers in concussion in sport, the second objective is to reach an agreement among the conference participants in developing a Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sports: an approach that would then be used by physicians and healthcare professionals involved in the care of injured athletes at the recreational, elite or professional level.
World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery will present rugby’s experience following the completion of a ground-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015, where dedicated tournament player welfare standards, including the use of Hawk-Eye technology, mandatory accreditation of medics in concussion management and independent concussion experts determining return to play moved the care of elite players to a new level.
The programme of on-field head injury identification and management, combined with the head injury assessment process, resulted in no concussed players returning to the field of play at rugby’s showcase event – a significant breakthrough for the sport. The standards have now been adopted by World Rugby across its events, as well as by other tournament organizers.
Beaumont said: “Concussion education, prevention, management and research is World Rugby’s number-one player welfare priority. Guided by independent experts and evidence-based research, we are committed to delivering the best-possible level of support to players at all level of the sport, both for men and women.
“This conference is an important step in not just standardizing education, but also the way that we manage the treatment and safe return to play for athletes with concussion. It is a great opportunity to share information and best practice with other federations and to further increase awareness of this topic, which is vitally important for nearly all sports.
“Previous conferences have been successful in identifying what we should be doing but the next step is to achieve consensus on how to implement guidelines and protocols in the important area of concussion assessment and return to play.”