NEW concussion guidelines for children who play contact sports have been welcomed by Bathurst’s junior rugby league and rugby union coaches.
Children with a suspected concussion will not be allowed to play for two weeks after symptoms have subsided, a landmark policy announced late last month).
The joint initiative of the Australian Institute of Sport and the Australian Medical Association found greater precautions were needed for potential concussion.
Eglinton Eels sports trainer Rod Masman welcomed the new guidelines, but said his club already had similar rules in place.
He said an under 13s player recently suffered a suspected concussion and they were immediately sent off the field and told to get clearance from a doctor before returning.
“We ensure a doctor signs off on their health before they come back to play again,” he said.
Mr Mason did, however, say there can be a mentality in higher levels of football where players do not like being forced off the field after a suspected concussion.
“There’s a mentality in football codes where it’s ‘you’ll be right mate, get up and play on’,” he said.
“Players in the NRL don’t like coming off if they’ve been concussed.
“If players are not going to look after themselves, rules need to be put in place to protect them.
“It is important they come up with a clear set of guidelines and everyone abides by them.”
Mr Mason said Eels players were encouraged to wear headwear during training and games.
Bathurst Bulldogs Rugby Union Football Club junior coach Shane Cantrill also supported the new guidelines.
“Bathurst Bulldogs club have always had guidelines in place that people must go and see the doctor,” he said.
Mr Cantrill said in recent times there had been two separate cases of under 13s players who suffered a slight concussion during play.
Both players were ordered off the field and had to undergo compulsory medical checks with their doctors before returning to the field a few weeks later.
“It could be a slight concussion and they’re a child and safety is the main thing,” he said.
Mr Cantrill said Bulldogs’ guidelines insist that all junior players must wear headgear and a mouthguard during any contact sessions of training or play.
“If they don’t turn up with them they’re not allowed to do any contact sport,” he said.
Obvious signs of concussion include loss of consciousness, brief convulsions or difficulty balancing or walking.
■ However, the signs of concussion can be more subtle, including headache, dizziness, sensitivity to noise or light, confusion, irritability, "pressure in the head", blurred vision, drowsiness, sadness, neck pain, balance problems, trouble falling asleep, nervous or anxious, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or feeling more emotional.