The IRB has reaffirmed its commitment to player welfare with the announcement of enhancements to the 'pitchside head injury assessment process' for elite rugby.
The latest IRB-commissioned research into the pitchside assessment of head injuries in elite rugby conducted in 2012-13 has seen a drop in the number of concussed players returning to the field of play.
Accepted for publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study highlights that prior to the global trial of the Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA) tool 56% of players assessed and left on the field of play were later determined to have sustained a concussion.
Since the PSCA trial began in 2012, the percentage has reduced to 13% with this reduction attributed to the combined strategy of education and implementation of the research-driven assessment.
Despite these positive results the IRB is committed to driving cultural change within the sport and further reducing the percentage.
Data from the trial has also enabled the IRB's independent concussion working group to identify enhancements to the PSCA tool, which is used to assess a player when the diagnosis of a head injury is unclear. If symptoms are evident the message remains recognise and permanently remove the player - the PSCA tool should not be used.
Two components of the PSCA tool have been expanded, with the memory test strengthened and the balance test altered, enhancing the information team and independent doctors have available to them when making a return to play decision.
In order to accommodate the expanded PSCA components and following a successful pilot trial, the IRB Executive Committee has approved an increase in the time permitted to undertake the assessment from five to 10 minutes. The new trial will operate from June 1.
IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "Concussion management and education sits at the very top of the IRB's player welfare strategies aimed at informing, supporting and protecting players at all levels of the game.
"The IRB centres its player welfare policies on evidence-based research and we are delighted that the data from this trial indicates we are making strong progress while informing the areas where we can continue to learn, improve and ultimately drive forward player welfare best-practice.
"Concussion is a serious public health issue that affects many sports. The PSCA has proven a successful part of our long-term commitment to educating and protecting players at all levels and driving cultural change.
"As a process for the elite game, the pitchside assessment covers less than 0.5% of the 6.6 million men, women and children playing rugby worldwide and our key message to the community game remains recognise and remove."
The enhanced protocol comes with the full support of Unions and the world's top players.
PSCA: THE FACTS
- Any player showing clear symptoms of concussion should be permanently removed from the field of play, undertake a SCAT 3 and not progress to a graduated return to play until symptom free for at least 24 hours - The PSCA is not a diagnosis tool, it is an assessment tool that is used when no clear symptoms of concussion are visible, giving the team or independent medic further information to make an informed decision
- All players who have undertaken a PSCA, regardless of pass or fail, must complete a SCAT 3 assessment after the match/training
- Prior to the PSCA and graduated return to play, concussion reporting was largely forced underground
- RFU study reported between 2002 and 2006 58% of confirmed concussion cases were not removed from the field of play despite medical practitioner education
- The 2012-13 trial included 165 PSCA interventions with an 88.1% negative predictive value (11.9% of players returned to the field of play were determined to have sustained a concussion following post-match mandatory examination) *
* Extract from forthcoming study accepted and approved for publication in the British Journal of Sports Medicine
PRIOR TO THE PSCA TRIAL
- IRB Junior World Championship 2018-2012 research: 50% of players assessed on the field of play were later determined to have sustained a concussion
- IRB Junior World Trophy 2008-2012 research: 60%of players assessed on the field of play were later determined to have sustained a concussion
- RFU 2001-2010 research: 56% of players assessed on the field of play were later determined to have sustained a concussion
* All above studies have been published
IRB CONCUSSION EDUCATION PROGRAMME: RECOGNISE AND REMOVE
- Concussion education module for Union matchday medical staff
- Concussion education delivered to 119 Unions at IRB General Assembly
- Mandatory concussion education for IRB match officials
- Mandatory concussion education components within the IRB Rugby Ready programme (118,000 completions)
- Mandatory education at IRB Junior World Championship and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy
- More than 4,800 completions of the concussion specific modules available at www.irbplayerwelfare.com/concussion
- 427 completions of the IRB Matchday Medical Staff course with specific Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA) module
- Ongoing work to support four key groups of stakeholders:
i) General public
ii) General practitioners
iii) Health care professionals working with rugby teams
iv) Union chief medical officers
Last December the IRFU launched a new guide to educate players, coaches, officials and parents on the dangers of concussion and how to recognise it. STOP - INFORM - REST - RETURN. To download the guide, please visit the Medical section of this site - http://www.irishrugby.ie/medical.
Less than a week after lifting the RBS 6 Nations trophy, Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has won the RBS Player of the Championship award. Securing over 26% of the public vote, the Limerick man received the backing of 18,842 fans.
The final day of the 2015 RBS 6 Nations Championship more than lived up to its billing of 'Super Saturday' with a record 221 points and 27 tries scored, smashing the former marks for a round of RBS 6 Nations rugby. Previously the highest tally of points from a three-match round was 196 on February 17, 2001, while the most tries had been 23 in the final round in 2007.
It was nail-biting, nerve shredding and epic! Relive Ireland's RBS 6 Nations Championship day from the squad's arrival at Murrayfield to the trophy presentation in our exclusive tunnel and pitch cam video.
Paying tribute to the Ireland supporters at Murrayfield, RBS 6 Nations winner Luke Fitzgerald said: "Thanks a million to the fans from the all guys. They were fantastic. We really felt their support out there, they were the '16th man' and helped us get over the line."
Sean O'Brien scored two tries and produced a man-of-the-match performance as Ireland beat Scotland 40-10 to finish top of the table and retain the RBS 6 Nations title. He spoke to Irish Rugby TV afterwards.
Speaking to Irish Rugby TV after the trophy presentation, RBS 6 Nations winner Robbie Henshaw said: "Words can't describe it...just the whole atmosphere, everyone in the stadium, just the way it ended out. It was pretty intense, the heart was rushing."
Enjoying the post-match celebrations at Murrayfield, RBS 6 Nations winner Rory Best said: "It's been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, the last hour. The crowd have been absolutely incredible. We're just delighted to give something back to them."
Previewing this week's trip to Murrayfield, Ireland's Robbie Henshaw said: "Scotland have a really nice back-line, we're going to have to be sharp on our feet and defend really well. We'll have to match them physically and bring some line speed."
Primed to come on off the bench against Wales, Ian Madigan said: "Especially when you're in that second sub spot in the back-line, having played in different positions for Leinster this season it definitely helps me. It's been nice the way the (recent) games have unfolded (for me). I feel very much part of the team."
Looking forward to playing again at the Millennium Stadium, Ireland hooker Sean Cronin said: "It's one of the best places to play in world rugby. It's got an amazing atmosphere and the crowd are so passionate there."