The June issue of “Cyclist” magazine carried an article asking “Should cycling do more to treat concussion?”
Cycling is certainly not the first sport to ask this question and many other sports are already ahead of the game, so to speak. They have reviewed their rules so as to try and avoid concussion and have introduced assessments and protocols for dealing with suspected or actual concussion injuries.
Rugby Union now has strict rules on tackling and ruck engagement. They have a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol for players suffering a blow to the head. If a player fails the assessment, they will be withdrawn from play and will need to complete a “Graduated Return to Play” (GRTP) protocol before they are allowed back.
British Eventing have a similar protocol for riders who fall from their horse. The rider is not allowed to remount and continue the course and must be medically checked before leaving the event.
The problem with concussion is that it’s not always easy to spot immediately, but it can come back and hit you with a vengeance later-what if you passed out while driving home?
Of course you all want to continue in competition, especially if there’s a team involved, but a blow to the head can affect your judgment as to whether you’re safe to do so. So an independent assessment is vital.
It does look as though cycling needs to do something about concussion. The article tries to suggest that cycling is somehow “not like other sports” and therefore concussion protocols are harder to produce and enforce.
I would say “Not so”.
All sports are unlike others, but some are managing to draw up and enforce protocols with no resistance or complaints from the participants. Why would you protest at something trying to prevent you from serious injury, which would potentially stopping you from doing any sport at all?
The Medical Equestrian Association www.medequestrian.co.uk/ has done a lot of work on concussion. The International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF) www.ichirf.org/ is currently conducting research as to whether repeated head trauma leads to neurological problems in later life, such as possibly older footballers who headed probably thousands of heavy leather footballs in their careers. ICHIRF is asking people to donate their brains – being careful to note “only when you’ve finished with them” – so as to be able to continue research on this topic.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) www.uci.ch/ regulations are brief and give little assistance on concussion. Even then, the limited advice it does give to withdraw cyclists in a race after a fall is apparently not being adhered to. It needs to take the lead in taking this issue more seriously as other sports have done to prevent serious damage.