Concussion – Reporting Behavior in Rugby

A National Survey of Rugby Union Players in the United States

Introduction:

A recent research piece examined the prevalence of concussions in male and female rugby players in the United States to characterise behaviors around reporting concussions that could be a target for prevention and treatment efforts. Throughout this research review, we will discuss re-occurring attitudes and behaviors and how this can directly or indirectly affect concussion awareness, management, and reporting. Here at HIT, we aim to reduce the ambiguity around concussion in Sport, by providing an interface that is user friendly, accessible, and practical which is delivered via our device and its companion app.

Attitudes and Behaviour:

In reference to a statement in this research literature: “I didn’t want to let down my teammates / coach, parents”, as the main reason for not reporting a head impact, suggesting that there is still a stigma or perceived stigma around reporting concussions and removal from play”.  Realistically, how many of you sporting readers have faced this dilemma? How many of you have deliberately withheld information around an injurie(s), with the concern that this could have wider implications and a longer term impact? If we are truthfully honest, the majority of athletes will raise their hand and go, “yes, that’s me, I have admittedly done that”, regardless of the reasons, situation, consequences and risk involved. By nature, athletes are competitive people. The HIT device and companion app can reduce this issue, as athletes can use the data from the app to show any head impacts sustained, meaning that this facilitates a conversation and takes some pressure off of the player who may lack the confidence to advocate for themselves without any evidence. This also prevents athletes from playing on and potentially gaining second impact syndrome, which can be fatal. In HIT’s simplest form – Recognise, Remove and Assess.

Behaviours in Elite Sport:

Many could argue that failure to report concussion is more prevalent in Elite and professional sports as a finding stated “feeling a responsibility to play, especially in important matches”. In some sports the matches can be very financially rewarding and failure to play / perform or fight results in a loss of earnings, this is teamed with a myriad of emotions that then also facilitate a lack of accurate reporting or even reporting in the initially instance. This is why here at HIT we have invested plenty of time and resources into understanding our different consumer profiles, who these people are, what their concerns, challenges, and barriers are, with all of this in mind it has then allowed us to progress forwards within our research and development phase to fully understand what is required from our product offering in order for it to be  commercially viable but most importantly a useful strategy for all athletes, coaches and sports stakeholders to use.

Behaviours in Grass roots:

A key finding from this research piece stated: “Our data suggest that nonelite rugby matches may have less than optimal medical coverage, with most competitions occurring without an athletic trainer or physician present”. On the flip side, when you aren’t playing in an elite or professional sports setting an equally challenging barrier is access to qualified medical professionals, meaning that it is usually on large left to volunteers, coaches and parents – which as you know can be very daunting, demanding a lot of patience, confidence and understanding of what concussion is and how to manage it. HIT aims to make sports technology accessible within grass roots sports, so that we can implement a strategy to improve head impact awareness and management.

It might seem like we are trying to compare apples and pears with elite vs grassroots sports and the environments that they present themselves in, but it is worth noting that both settings inhibit as equally damaging consequences if no appropriate strategy and action is taken in order to tackle head impacts in Sport. Concussion and head impacts are non-discriminatory, anyone at any point can experience a blow to the head and can suffer many different symptoms, which is why we are pushing forward with change by bringing our HIT sports tech to the market for commercial sales to occur.

Awareness and Education:

An extraction from this research states: “Given the misconceptions that many athletes maintain about the concussion risk, athlete education remains an important method of management for this injury”.

HIT’s concept and functionality is designed to take athletes on a journey, so that they are developing a greater awareness for their own personal thresholds, tracking their own head impacts. Other concussion methods and strategies do not facilitate such learning opportunities as they are simply tests, allowing less room for reflection upon data that allows athletes to come to an informed decision. To further support this need for an educational journey the same research piece outlined: “It is still possible that respondents were influenced by alternative previous definitions of concussion”. Thus, reiterating that concussion can be commonly misunderstood and unreported. Many people believe that concussion only occurs when you are knocked out – this is one of the biggest myths within understanding concussion. “Getting knocked out or being unconscious does not always occur with a concussion” as explained in this study. Here at HIT we like to raise this awareness and debunk such myths as we aim to inform, educate, and support all sports personnel. You can encounter a soft blow to the head and still experience concussion, which is why concussion can be so fatal, as many athletes are not fully aware what they are experiencing, and the risk involved without early intervention.

Summary:

If you have made it to this section, thanks for staying “tuned” – As HIT continues to grow we aim to keep on consistently sharing where our product fits into the market, why it’s needed, what its purpose is whilst pulling in up-to-date research, studies, and literature to highlight where HIT fits into in the Sports Tech industry.

To view the full research piece, please click HERE

 

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