Concussion debate escalates in sporting world

A leading sports doctor warns that rugby union will face legal claims from former players suffering with concussion after effects.

Barry O’Driscoll, a former Ireland international, says the sport will soon find itself in a similar situation to American football. The National Football League recently reached a $765m settlement with a group of more than 4,500 former players who claimed that it had concealed the risk of long-term brain injury. Mr O’Driscoll, speaking at Thursday’s ( November 7) Professional Rugby Concussion forum claimed that rugby's authorities were "mad" and "cavalier in the extreme" in their approach towards concussion. The forum brought together players, coaches, and doctors in an effort to improve the collective understanding of concussion issues. O'Driscoll, who resigned from the International Rugby Board's medical advisory board in protest at its handling of concussion injuries, was at the extreme end of the range of views represented. He feels the new Pitch-side Concussion Assessment (PCSA), which means players who are suspected to have concussion have to leave the field for five minutes to undergo tests, provides inadequate protection. He also argues that the suspicion of concussion alone should be enough to remove a player from a game. Mr O'Driscoll stated that players who have a PSCA and are allowed to go back on could "start getting severely depressed or migrained" several years down the line. The Rugby Football Union's head of sports medicine, Dr Simon Kemp, pointed out that since PSCA was introduced, instances of players returning to the field while suffering concussion had fallen from 56% to 13%. Read more here.
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