Atlanta Youth Rugby is committed to teaching safety and preventing concussions. All players playing contact rugby in any form receive instruction in proper rugby tackling techniques. All players receive instruction on the dangers and symptoms of concussion, and all parents receive concussion fact sheets prior to the first practice. All AYR coaches and assistant coaches complete annual concussion awareness training and maintain concussion symptoms checklists on the field. Dr. John Xerogeneas, AYR Advisory Board Member and Head Team Orthopedist and Team Physician for Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and Atlanta Dream is a member of the AYR Advisory Board. He is available to answer questions about rugby safety and concussion prevention in a Frequently Asked Questions format.
AYR’s Concussion policy is in accordance with Georgia’s Return to Play Act of 2013 and follows USA Rugby’s “5 R’s” when dealing with suspected concussions:
1. RECOGNIZE – Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion so you understand when an athlete might have a suspected concussion or brain injury.
2. REMOVE – If an athlete has a concussion or brain injury, or even a suspected concussion, he or she must be removed from play immediately.
3. REFER – Once removed from play, the player must be referred immediately to a qualified healthcare professional who is trained in evaluating and treating concussions.
4. RECOVER – Full recovery from the concussion is required before return to play is authorized. This includes being symptom-free. Rest and some specific treatment options are critical for the health of the injured participant.
5. RETURN – In order for safe return to play in rugby, the athlete must be symptom-free and cleared in writing by a qualified healthcare professional who is trained in evaluating and treating concussions. The athlete will then complete the GRTP (Graduated Return to Play) protocol.
Atlanta Youth Rugby Concussion Policy
1. A player cannot return to play (match or practice) under any circumstances once they have been removed from play due to a suspected concussion or brain injury. Removal from play is considered “due to a suspected concussion or brain injury” if the player reports or exhibits any symptom on the checklist, or if a coach, athletic trainer, referee, or the player’s parent or guardian suspects that the player could have a concussion or brain injury. A parent or player guardian cannot override the decision of a referee and/or coach to remove a player from play due to a suspected concussion or brain injury.
2. After a suspected concussion or brain injury the following steps are required: (1) Rest and minimal activity for at least 24-hours, AND, (2) Player must visit a licensed physician or another licensed individual under the supervision of a licensed physician, such as a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or certified athletic trainer who has received training in concussion evaluation and management, to assess the injury.
(a) If the medical professional determines that a concussion or brain injury has occurred the player will not be permitted to play at all for one week with no exception. The player may not return to play until Atlanta Youth Rugby has received written notice from the medical professional that the player has been symptom-free for one week and is approved to begin the Graduated Return to Play (GRTP) process. Coaches and assistant coaches will permit the player to practice or play only in accordance with the GRTP process.
(b) If the medical professional determines that a concussion or brain injury has NOT occurred, the player may not return to play until Atlanta Youth Rugby has received written notice from a medical professional that a concussion or brain injury has NOT occurred and the player is approved to begin the GRTP process.
THUS, whether a concussion or brain injury has been diagnosed or not by a medical professional, Atlanta Youth Rugby coaches will always follow the GRTP process to return any player back to play if that player has been removed from play due to a suspected concussion or brain injury.
4. Graduated Return to Play. Following a concussion or suspected concussion the management of the GRTP protocol will be undertaken with the full cooperation of the player in order to return the player to play. The GRTP starts once the medical professional has cleared the player in writing as having not had a concussion and being symptom free, or if after a concussion was diagnosed by the medical professional the player has rested for the mandatory 7 days and then been cleared in writing by the medical professional as being symptom free.
The GRTP requires five steps for the graduated return to play, where at each step the player is determined to still be symptom free. The GRTP steps are:
(a) Light aerobic exercise during a 24-hour period.
(b) Sport specific exercise (like passing the ball, but not contact) during a 24-hour period.
(c) Non-contact training drills during a 24-hour period.
(d) Full contact practice.
(e) After 24-hours return to match play
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact your coach. More details on the GRTP process as dictated by USA Rugby and the International Rugby Board can be found at http://usarugby.org/concussions