While the IRFU's graduated return-to-play protocol (GRTPs) durations of 23 days for players under 20 years of age and 21 days for players over 20 years of age remain the same, the latest medical advice from the 5th International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, which was held in Berlin in October 2016, indicates that players who have suffered from a suspected or confirmed concussion should minimise complete rest to 24-48 hours, returning to normal every day activities and light exercise after this.
They will not return to contact sport until 19-21 days following the injury but they will be allowed to do more low-risk activities and exercise in the first two weeks.
Previous advice had been for players to rest and abstain from any activity for the first 14-15 days following the injury. It is now advised that after the initial 24-48 hour rest period, players gradually return to normal day to day activities and non-sport activities, as long as the activity does not exacerbate the symptoms.
The IRFU's updated concussion guide, which comes in a handy wallet card format, contains all the relevant information required to support those who may have to help manage a concussed player.
The guide contains:
- a guide to recognising the signs and symptoms of concussion
- the graduated return to play protocols for players under 20 years of age and for players over 20 years of age
- a section which can be filled out by the an adult present at the time of injury to assist appropriate handover of careMairead Liston, IRFU Medical Department Coordinator, commented: "The Berlin guidelines have shown that it is important to return to normal, non-contact activity as soon as possible after a suspected concussion whereas total rest can in fact exacerbate symptoms.
"This is not about rushing back into sporting activity but about doing normal activities and light exercise in order to aid recovery.
"Our updated guide contains a useful section where an adult present at the time of injury can fill in the details of a suspected or confirmed concussion, and then hand the guide to the player or their guardian so that there is good continuity with their aftercare and that information can then be provided to the appropriate medical professionals."
The wallet cards will be distributed to clubs and schools around the country and a pdf version can be downloaded here.