Concussion – Lessons to be learned from Rugby’s approach

Failure to properly manage the risk of concussion at grass roots level could lead to a drop in sports participation, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has warned.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine with leading experts in sports medicine and science, Dr Catherine Calderwood writes that, if properly managed, the relatively low risk of concussion should not stop people from playing sport, or allowing their children to take part. But she warns that a failure to promote good quality advice and information throughout amateur sport could lead to lower participation.

The article is co-written with Dr Willie Stewart of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, an advisor to World Rugby and leading expert on brain injuries in sport, and Dr Andrew Murray a Sports and Exercise Medicine consultant with the University of Edinburgh and Fellow of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK. They call for more collaboration between sports, to ensure that good concussion management is always present at grass-roots level.

Dr Andrew Murray Sports and Exercise Medicine Consultant and Fellow of the FSEM comments: “The fact that concussion has been recently discussed in the Scottish Parliament shows the importance and high profile of this issue. Regular physical activity may be the best present we can give our children, on average they will live seven years longer, be happier, and get better marks at school, so we must encourage this. But you only get one brain. We are lucky in Scotland that major action is already being taken to improve knowledge on concussion, and plans for further action will help. World Rugby have succeeded in making the game safer by changing laws and sanctions in relation to tip tackles, and the scrum, helping decrease neck injuries, and it is welcome they are looking at further changes to make the game, enjoyed by so many, even safer.”

Click here to read the full news item on the Scottish Government’s website.


The full editorial written for the British Journal of Sports Medicine authored by Dr Calderwood, Dr Murray and Dr Stewart can be seen in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Click here to view the Scottish Concussion Guidelines.

Click here to view Concussion Guidelines for the Education Sector.