Triathlon NSW are committed to protecting the health and welfare of its members, particularly juniors in our sport. This document explains how we achieve this in relation to concussion injuries.
Our aim is to reduce the probability and severity of concussion injuries associated with our activities.
We recognise that the most common causes of concussion in Triathlon is either a fall from a bicycle, or a fall whilst running, and that the implementation of effective preventative and corrective control measures will reduce the probability and severity of falls. This will contribute to making our sport safer for our members.
We will achieve this by:
- Developing and promoting a concussion assessment and management protocol for non-medically trained coaches, officials and parents, who are often the first responders to a fall incident
- Supporting and promoting the joint Australian Institute of Sport and Australian Medical Association’s POSITION STATEMENT on Concussion in Sport to provide improved safety and health outcomes for all people who suffer concussive injuries while participating in sport.
- Promoting concussion awareness amongst our affiliated clubs
- Recognising that children and adolescents may be more susceptible to concussion and take longer to recover
- Ensuring that all sanctioned events in NSW are conducted at a risk level that is both understood and tolerable
The management of concussion
When considering the management of concussion the welfare of the athlete, both in the short and the long term, must come first. This document provides information to assist non-medical persons identify and manage concussion on the triathlon field of play and in the training environment.
What is Concussion?
Concussion is a disturbance in brain function resulting from trauma that is transmitted to the brain either directly (via impact to the head) or indirectly (via a force to any part of the body that is transmitted to the head). Therefore it is possible to suffer a concussion even though there is no external damage to the head. There are no structural changes and the changes that do occur are temporary and recover spontaneously if managed correctly.
The most common cause of concussion in triathlon is a fall from a bicycle.
It is important to understand that a person does not have to lose consciousness to have concussion.
Complications can occur if an athlete is allowed to return to the sport before they have fully recovered from concussion. Therefore an athlete who is suspected of having a concussion must be removed from competition or the training session immediately. Concussion is considered a medical condition and therefore needs to be formally assessed and managed by a medical professional.
Non-Medical Assessment of Concussion
A non-medical person should suspect concussion if the athlete has any of the following symptoms:
Slow to get up
Poor vision or hearing
Nausea or vomiting
Behaviour or emotional changes
Memory impairment can be determined by the response to some simple questions, such as:
- Where are you?
- What time did the race (or training activity) commence?
- Who drove here and where is the car parked?
If any of the above symptoms are observed, then the athlete must be removed from the competition or training activity, and referred to a medical professional as soon as practicable.
What to do if a concussion is suspected
- Follow the basic principles of first aid (danger / response / airway / breathing / circulation)
- If a neck injury is suspected, do not attempt to move the athlete (other than required for airway support), and do not remove a helmet unless trained to do so
- Arrange for the athlete to be examined by a medical practitioner
- Do not return the athlete to the sport at any time on the same day “If in doubt, sit them out”
If the athlete has lost consciousness, or if any of the concussion symptoms deteriorate, then an ambulance must be called immediately.
How to Manage Concussion
If concussion is suspected or confirmed:
- They should remain in the company of a responsible adult,
- Must not be allowed to drive, and
- Must have rest, both physically and mentally
Children are more susceptible to concussion and may take longer to recover.
Return to Sport Following Concussion
A concussed athlete shall not be allowed to return to competition or any at-risk training activity until they have received a Medical Clearance. Children should not return to sport before they have successfully “returned to learn” without any concussion symptoms.Reference: Australian Sports Commission publication: CONCUSSION IN SPORT