Sports are literally all fun and games, but when it comes to the actual players, they’re anything but.
Especially in full contact sports, like football or rugby. Although tackling and the risk of rough contact with other players or inanimate objects is part of the excitement of the game, the players’ physical safety is top priority.
Rugby, one of the riskier full contact sports -according to the Brain Injury Law Center, about 1,200 people suffer brain injuries while playing rugby each year- has implemented a protocol to assist with the identification, diagnosis and management of head impact events with the potential for a concussion.
It’s called the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol and it was introduced by World Rugby for elite adult teams. The HIA protocol consists of three stages: game day assessment, post game assessment, and post injury assessment. The first stage is the most important, as early assessment and its timely treatment are essential to avoid long-term brain injuries.
Video plays a key role in this stage. It is used as a screening tool to rule out suspected concussions. The team doctor, or TD, has the primary responsibility for conducting the off-field screen in an extremely important time frame: 10 minutes immediately after the injury happened.
Video review has three specific roles. Firstly, during play, doctors use the recorded plays to review any incidents that may indicate head impact events that may compromise the player if they keep playing.
A second video review is then undertaken to see of the injuries require the player to be removed immediately without further evaluation. Finally, there is an off-field assessment, where video is again reviewed to see if a player can be returned to play.
Therefore, the quality and immediate availability of video footage are essential to a proper execution of the HIA protocol.
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