Headway UK, which supports local people affected by brain injury, will launch the Concussion Aware campaign during Action for Brain Injury Week, which takes place from 9-15 May.
Concussion has made the headlines recently with a number of high profile footballers and rugby players forced to take early retirement. The condition has also been linked to long-term brain damage, with possible links to dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression, in former rugby and football players.
The Hollywood biographical sports drama, ‘Concussion’, starring Will Smith also put the spotlight on the brain condition earlier this year. The film was based on the exposé ‘Game Brain’ by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and the true story of pathologist Dr Bennet Omalu. Dr Omalu uncovered the truth about brain damage in American football players who suffered repeated concussions in the course of normal play.
Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, says: “Sport plays a key role in keeping us fit and healthy. At Headway, we want to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy sport, while being better protected from the risks of concussion.
“A great deal has been achieved in the past few years to improve concussion protocols, with the emphasis being placed on elite-level sport to set a good example for others to follow.
“But we believe everyone who plays sport should be concussion aware – particularly those at grassroots level who are playing purely for the love of it and do not have ambulances and doctors on standby should something go wrong.
“We hope that through this campaign, we can encourage sports clubs, schools, colleges and universities in our region to ensure their members or pupils are aware of concussion and sign up to an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach.”
Kelly Hutton, secretary for Headway Lancaster and Morecambe Bay and a member of the Birchall Blackburn Law serious and catastrophic injury team, says: “We support people with life changing concussion and we’ve seen first-hand the terrible consequences for sufferers, loved-ones and friends.
“Something like second impact syndrome can be extremely serious but completely avoidable. This is when a second concussion occurs before a first concussion has properly healed, causing rapid and severe brain swelling with often catastrophic results.
“Second impact syndrome happens because of outdated attitudes to head injuries in sport. But professional sport is now addressing the issue and we hope Headway’s Concussion Aware campaign will help do the same for grassroots sport.”
Sports clubs and academic institutions will have access to a range of materials, including a factsheet giving advice about concussion, posters to display both online and in changing rooms, and a digital stamp to demonstrate the club has adopted a responsible approach to concussion.
In the meantime, Headway is inviting sports clubs to register interest in supporting the campaign or fundraising for the charity during Action for Brain Injury Week. For further information on the campaign, visit www.concussionaware.org.uk.