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Concussion Injuries A Concern For All Athletes

14 July 2002
ACC media release

Concussion Injuries A Concern For All Athletes

Concern over All Black Leon MacDonald’s recent concussion problems highlights the seriousness of such injuries for athletes playing sport at all levels.

MacDonald suffered his third concussion of the year when injured in South Africa on Saturday, and All Blacks doctor John Mayhew said MacDonald would not play again for up to three months while he fully recovered.

ACC General Manager Healthwise David Rankin said it was important that all sports people understood the seriousness of concussion injuries and the need to make a full recovery before returning to sport.

“Concussions must be treated with the same gravity regardless of whether you are playing for the All Blacks, the Under-12s or in President’s Grade,” he said.

“Leon is getting expert medical guidance over his concussion but the message is the same for all sports people – you must not rush your return to sport.

“Many symptoms are made worse by exercise, so rest is the most advisable treatment. It is very dangerous for the brain to be injured again if it has not recovered from the first injury, so you shouldn’t play sport again until cleared by a doctor.”

Dr Rankin said ACC had been working closely with medical experts and the governing bodies of rugby and rugby league to examine the scientific evidence and establish effective guidelines for concussion injuries.

Both codes now imposed a mandatory three-week stand-down periods for concussed non-professional players but that period was only a guide and players should not resume their sport if they were still suffering symptoms when the three-week period had elapsed.

Rugby coaches and referees had to attend a compulsory RugbySmart workshop that focused on injury prevention techniques and treatment.

Concussion is the most common head injury in sport. It typically follows a sudden, violent movement of the head in a tackle or collision, and can occur with or without the loss of consciousness.

Symptoms include a vacant stare, slow responses to questions or instructions, slurred speech, feelings of nausea, blurred or double vision, ringing in the ears, headache, and any period of unconsciousness.

Dr Rankin said anyone suffering a concussion needed to be checked by a doctor and then kept under observation for at least 24 hours after the injury, in case their condition deteriorated.

ACC produces two fact sheets detailing the signs to watch out for four weeks after someone has suffered a head injury. The sheets help people assess whether someone with a head injury needs hospital or other medical attention, and how to protect the head from further injury.

ACC, in consultation with medical experts, has also produced a clinical guide for managing traumatic brain injuries, which has been distributed to hospitals and clinics throughout New Zealand.

The fact sheets and other information on concussion injuries are available from doctors and medical clinics, and can be found at


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