UK Government Inquiry – DCMS Concussion in Sport X HIT

Introduction: In light of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Government inquiry report and findings that have been released today, (22nd July 2021), here at HIT we thought we would provide a condensed breakdown, with what this information means for us as a company, our audience and the wider Sporting networks. In this article we will outline where our product can aid in addressing some of the challenges you face as a participant as well as the grey conversations around concussion in Sport.

The place and need for Sports Tech: Why HIT In reference to page 21, section 52: “One of the biggest problems is the apparent lack of clarity on who is responsible for driving change. Change has not happened quickly enough and while the science currently available to us describes the problem it does not provide solutions”. At HIT our vision is to utilise our Sports Tech in order to influence change and concussion decision making in Sport. We are one of a few companies at the forefront of doing so. Sport and in particular, people cannot wait any longer for changes to be made. As our product launches later this summer, we look to make those connections with a wider sporting audience in order to provide some element of a solution to such a big issue that we all now face in the Sporting world. Our product is simple: remove, recognise and assess. Making our device and companion app easy to understand and user friendly has been at the spearhead of our work, as we like many others can see the lack of awareness, caution and fear around taking action to such a hot topic that can ultimately change a person’s life based on their head impact(s) gained during Sporting pursuits. We cannot accept that “it is undeniable that a significant minority of people will face long-term neurological issues as a result of their participation in Sport”. Founder of HIT, Euan Bowen personally witnessed a team mate suffer serious concussions and as a result quit his beloved Sport to ensure that he would not be at any more risk. This is an example of the risk vs reward that the DCSM also navigate throughout their report. HIT was born, has grown and is now developing into a purchasable product. HIT understands that Concussion is a serious issue and seeks to challenge this key finding, so that acceptance is no longer compliance.

Grassroots Sport Because we all start off here… Section 10 of the report outlines “Most people who play Sport do so at the mass participation (or grassroots) level. Therefore, it is likely that the majority of injuries (including concussions) will also occur at this level. During our research and development phases ahead of our product launch, we wanted to make sure that our product was fit for purpose. Our device and app are designed to be used by all coaches, parents, athletes, volunteers and stakeholders in Sport. We have created a platform that allows for everyone at all different levels, ages and abilities to have access to such sports tech, so that we can increase concussion awareness in Sport as well as aid in decision making. We aim to change the landscape of concussion in sport by providing a tool that is easy to use, implement and ultimately protect all athletes.

Data Records: Generating your own brain health record Dr Sylvester expressed: “Kids do not just play one Sport. They play rugby, they play football, they play basketball, and they play cricket. I have loads of kids who had a concussion playing rugby but then are in the basketball game three days later, because it is a different coach”.  With this issue in mind here at HIT we can advise that our app allows the participant to collect such head impact data, so that they can start to collate a “brain like health record” – this is shown in a calendar like display. We understand that our product can aid in this process of grassroots sports, as it then means no data is missed out between different sporting pursuits, it improves communications across Sporting ventures, allows coaches, parents and young people to make more informed decisions, so that the said persons health is always put first. Moreover, within the DCMS report conclusions and recommendations point 3 references “They must instead be able to rely on robust information that should be collated on a patients record”. HIT’s data capture can aid in such process as a starting point, paving the way for brain health records.

Misconception around Concussion Protocols: Debunking a common “myth” In the report section 3; Elite Sport paragraph 29 states “all this awareness being raised of concussions and head injuries in Sport and in Skeleton is potentially damaging and going to ruin the Sport”. HIT’s function is not to change any rules within sport – we aim to protect the beauty of the Sport by introducing Sports Tech that can be worn, much like head guards are already worn in Rugby, with the added benefit of the accessory monitoring such forces to then analyse head impacts, so that early recognition can take place. This shows that not all concussion awareness and protocols are designed to change the game, but simply allow our sports to continue with an added layer of awareness. Isn’t this the best of both worlds? If anything HIT simultaneously supports Ex-England Rugby player Kyran Brackens view “It needs a lot of education” – At HIT we are using our device and app to aid in educating sports personnel, this is done by increasing their own personal awareness of what G forces they are experiencing as well as giving them the confidence to track and trace their own brain health.

NHS Support – Need for increased Sporting Awareness: DCMS stated: “We recommend that the NHS establishes a programme to ensure that it properly records head trauma and ensures that its frontline is properly equipped to not only treat the immediate consequences of head trauma but provide the best advice and, if necessary, long-term treatment for those who suffer acquired brain injury”. Here at HIT we recognise that there is still a lack of awareness amongst the Sporting community in terms of understanding concussion in Sport, how to identify it and then also how to implement changes. Our product, device and app not only increases awareness of concussion in Sport but also provides you with a valid tool for aiding in decision making. Our aim is to mitigate risk and provide all users, coaches, parents, players, athletes alike with valid, easy to understand information that allows you to put your brain health at the forefront, so that you can reduce your risk of sustaining secondary impact syndrome. Moreover, this report stated “if coaches are not as aware as they should be it is likely that participants and spectators are even less informed” This shows that the NHS cannot treat what their patients do not know about, we are applying all onus onto the NHS, yet we are merely trying to treat the symptom and not the cause. In short HIT can help with this issue by increasing concussion awareness in Sport, so that people involved in Sport have a better understanding, thus making it more likely that the NHS are able to support our Sporting community.

Summary: In summary this DCSM report signifies HIT’s place in the world of Sporting Tech. We are here as we understand the need for such a vital product to be on the market, we want to fill our end users with confidence and the ‘know how’ so that they can continue lifelong participation, whilst reducing any potential long term neurological damaging effects. In support of this under the heading “The Governments role in regulating Sport” section 83: “It will never be possible to ensure that Sport is one hundred percent safe. It should, however, be expected that participants are aware of the risks involved and that there is a precautionary approach to risk management” we can action this call by pushing our product far and wide for all Sports and personnel to benefit from the technology that aids in mitigating such risks. Together we can recognise, remove and assess.

To view and download the DCSM Concussion Report click HERE.