01 February 2024
Kids, parents, teachers, and coaches will be better protected from concussion in sport than ever before thanks to new guidelines launched by the Australian Institute of Sport.
The Youth and Community Sport Guidelines, which form part of the updated Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement, have been unveiled today to coincide with the return of school sport across the country, as well as the start of pre-season for various football codes and winter sports.
The AIS, the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) high performance arm, in a world first, has aligned the Youth and Community Sport Guidelines with advice in both the United Kingdom, through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation.
“This multi-national approach to the Youth and Community Sport Guidelines provides all Australians with a clear, consistent, and strong message on how to manage concussion in sport,” said AIS Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes AM.
“It’s important to manage all instances of concussion with an abundance of caution and make it clear that a conservative management approach is needed for people aged under 19 who have growing brains and are at risk of prolonged recovery times, as well as for community sport where advanced health care support is often not available.”
“The AIS wants everyone involved in sport to remember, when considering an athlete with possible concussion, ‘if in doubt, sit them out’.”
Information for parents and teachers to help recognise the symptoms of concussion and understand the best process for treatment and ongoing management of concussion.
The key updates to align Australia’s Youth and Community Sport Guidelines with the United Kingdom and New Zealand are:
- Expanding the existing advice for children aged 19 and under to be symptom free for 14 days prior to returning to contact training to also apply to all incidences of community sport related concussion; and
- Extending the mandatory minimum standdown period following an incidence of sport-related concussion to 21 days from the time of concussion until returning to competitive contact sport.
The AIS Concussion and Brain Health Position statement also provides recommended guidelines for high performance and professional athletes over the age of 19 with daily access to heath care professionals, advising no return to contact activities until the athlete been symptom-free for at least ten days.
“We share the community’s concern about concussion in sport, particularly among young people,” said ASC CEO Kieren Perkins OAM.
“I am proud that Australia, along with the UK and New Zealand, is leading the world in concussion guidelines for youth and community sport, ensuring sport remains a safe and welcoming environment for all.”
The updated Position Statement addresses a number of the recommendations from the Senate Inquiry into concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sports.
“With Recommendations 7 and 10 addressed by the Position Statement as well as Recommendation 8 being partly addressed, this is a significant step in the right direction and I’d like to thank the Australian Government for its continued support regarding this serious issue,” said Mr Perkins.
AIS Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes speaking about the advice for athletes in the 2024 AIS Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement.
The 2024 AIS Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement is the latest update of the inaugural concussion position statement launched in 2016.
In partnership with Sports Medicine Australia, the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians, the 2024 position statement brings together the most contemporary evidence-based information on concussion for athletes, parents, teachers, coaches and healthcare practitioners.
The 2024 edition has been updated with specific information and resources for para and female athletes, as well as highlighting the role of the physiotherapist in the diagnosis and management of concussion. Schools and community clubs are encouraged to consider appointing a ‘Concussion Officer’.
The AIS recommends that clubs and schools introduce a ‘concussion officer’ to oversee the management of concussion.
To support the position statement, a series of resources have also been launched on the Concussion in Australian Sport website. To view the resources and for more information about the management and prevention of concussion in sport, visit: www.concussioninsport.gov.au