Medics call for Rugby rule changes to combat concussion

As the UK embraces rugby fever, medical professionals are concerned for players’ safety. In the titanic clash between England and Wales Liam Williams suffered a blow to the head. He was stretchered off the pitch with concussion and later declared unfit to face Fiji. This is the latest in a string of concussion injuries for Wales. George North was also forced to take an extended break from the sport last season after receiving three separate head traumas.

During the last Six Nations, there was a concussive injury in every game

The Rugby Unions of both England and Scotland are working to raise awareness of concussion. This has led to an increase in reported cases, with England reporting a 59 % rise in 2013-14.
Not everybody who suffers concussion becomes unconscious, though. Signs of concussion can include but are not limited to:

  • Personality change
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Tiredness

Post-concussion syndrome can cause symptoms to last for several months and in some cases many years, with a few very rare sufferers developing permanent symptoms.

Call for a change of Rugby rules

Players and medical experts alike agree that the level of brain injury in rugby cannot be allowed to continue. The tackle has been identified as posing the greatest risk of head trauma. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) accepts that changes must be made.
Any rule changes are likely to focus on the tackle. The suggestion is that tackling players lower down on the body should reduce the risk of head injury.

Dianne Yates is a partner at Birchall Blackburn Law and Serious and Catastrophic Injury specialist with over 20 years’ experience. She said

“I sadly see too many young athletes who have suffered brain injuries as a result of the sport they love. We can help them to access compensation and specialist care that they are sometimes entitled to, however I would prefer to see a change in the rules of the game that would prevent these injuries from occurring in the first place.”


Concussion’s long term effects on the brain

Boston-based brain scientists believe that repeated head traumas can lead to dementia in later years. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a type of dementia, presents symptoms not dissimilar to those seen in the immediate aftermath of head trauma: changes in mood, problems with speech, depression, memory loss and problems walking.
CTE has been seen in former rugby and American football players. A similar trend has been observed in participants in other contact sports, too.

Brain injuries can be life changing for both the victims and their families. If you or a loved one have suffered a head injury that has led to ongoing symptoms, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our professional team of Serious Injury lawyers treat everyone with understanding and compassion. We know that a compensation payment is often not enough. That’s why we will fight to ensure that you get the specialist care and support that you need. To chat to our team, you can contact us on 0800 988 1548 or 0333 321 2192 from a mobile.