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IRB out to avoid brain damage

07 January 2014, 22:25

Cape Town - The International Rugby Board (IRB) is considering stricter protocols to prevent players with possible concussion from returning to the field during matches.

According to a current protocol being tested in some tournaments, a player can return to the playing field if he passes a cognitive test within five minutes. It is called the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) trial - or 'five-minute test'.

However, an IRB task team is of the view that a five-minute period is too short to make an accurate diagnosis.

According to Die Burger's website, this five-minute period could be doubled to 10 minutes.

The IRB recently admitted that repeated concussions could lead to dementia. This stemmed from studies that showed boxers develop neurological problems later - and post - in their careers.

Statistics show that in tournaments where the five-minute concussion rule is being trialled (like the Currie Cup), fewer players stay on the field after being concussed (down from 56% to 13%).

Research done on American football players also showed that concussion causes players to suffer from long-term neurological issues.

This led to a legal battle after which $765m (about R8bn) was paid out to thousands of former players and their families.

The IRB has subsequently taken note of this and has approached a number of world-renowned experts to advise them on the best way to manage this growing concern in the game.

- Sport24

Tags irb rugby

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