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Concussion Test to be reviewed by IRB

Written by Scott Bevan (The Hobbit)

Posted in :In the news, Original Content on 18 Jul 2013 at 08:53
Tagged with : , ,

In an announcement by the IRB yesterday they have stated that they are to review the controversial in-match concussion test. The Pitch side Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA), which has been in place for a year, came to prominence during the British and Irish Lions’ 41-16 series-clinching win over Australia in Sydney earlier this month.

5 minutes into the test match against the Lions, Wallaby flanker George Smith was involved in a crunching head to head collision with Lions hooker Richard Hibbard, which left the Australian unsteady on his feet and looked clearly concussed.

Yet after only 5 minutes off the field, Smith passed the PSCA and was allowed to return, a move that caused concern within both rugby and medical circles.

It obviously affected me. You saw me snake dancing off the field. I passed the (concussion) tests that were required within those five minutes and I got out there,’ Smith said afterwards.

Former Wallabies forward Peter FitzSimons, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, said Smith’s return was a ‘disgrace’ and asked: ‘In what other field of employment would an employee who had just suffered major brain trauma be allowed/encouraged to get back to it five minutes later?’

However, the IRB, in a statement issued from its Dublin headquarters, insisted the PSCA had led to a rise, not a reduction, in players being taken off as a result of concussion.

The PSCA is designed to give teams and match doctors time to assess cases in which concussion is not immediately apparent and since its introduction as a global trial in 2012 has proven highly successful, leading to 25 percent more players being removed from the field of play permanently following a head impact,’ the statement said.

The review, which will be overseen by the PSCA working group, is designed to assess the PSCA ‘functionality and compliance’ in a bid to ‘ensure clear and consistent management of suspected concussion cases and further enhance best-practice delivery’, the IRB said.

IRB chief medical officer Martin Raftery insisted the PSCA was a guide and should not be the sole determining factor in whether a player be stopped from continuing to take part in a match.

The PSCA is intended to be a supportive tool for physicians in the elite Game. If a player is clearly displaying the signs of concussion, that player must be removed from the field of play and should not return to play.’

But the start of the PSCA trial saw Dr Barry O’Driscoll, himself a former Ireland international and the uncle of Irish great Brian O’Driscoll, resign as the IRB’s medical advisor.

He warned rugby was ‘trivialising’ concussion, telling Scotland on Sunday in March: ‘They are sending these guys back on to the field and into the most brutal arena.

‘It’s ferocious out there…There is no test that you can do in five minutes that will show that a player is not concussed…To have this as acceptable in rugby, what kind of message are we sending out?’

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