Sport: New guidelines aimed at minimising concussion effects across more sports

With the winter sport season fast approaching, ACC - formerly Accident Compensation Corporation - is introducing a new set of guidelines to better manage concussion injuries at a community level.

High-impact sports like rugby won't be the only ones affected, with seven winter codes having to adapt to the regulations.

Pre-season training is already underway for the Wellington College First XI and there's plenty to take in before the upcoming season, including a brand new set of rules. 

Football training at Wellington College comes to grips with new guidelines.
Football training at Wellington College comes to grips with new guidelines. Photo credit: Newshub

"We've been looking at all the research around concussion, both here and abroad," said ACC deputy chief executive of prevention and partnerships Tane Cassidy. 

They've come up with the following guidelines.

  • When a player suffers a concussion, they must stand down from competition for a minimum of three weeks (21 days).
  • Be symptom-free for 14 days after injury, before they can even start training again
  • Seek medical clearance before playing again

Rugby union and rugby league already have a stand-down period in place, but now football, netball, basketball and others will join them. 

"We know that a lot of people take a longer period of time than we previously thought to recover, so by waiting three weeks, we're increasing the probability that people will have made a clinical recovery," said NZ Football medical director Mark Fulcher.

Back-to-back premiership-winning Wellington striker Tom Jackson was forced to hang up his boots with a head injury and knows how important it is to make a full recovery.

"Concussions, when managed well early, can be a short-term injury and the long-term benefits are much greater, when dealt with appropriately," said Jackson. 

The regulations have been developed to ensure a clear and consistent approach to managing concussion, and come off the back of a rising number of head injuries. 

"It's around 10,500 claims last year and we've seen a big growth over the last four years," said Cassidy.

While rugby made up nearly a third of those claims, football was next on the list, accounting for just over a thousand.

With the help of these guidelines, aspiring footballers can hopefully maximise their potential. while minimising the risk.