School rugby linked to rising number of head injuries

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Thousands of school children are suffering concussion when playing rugby and other sports.

More than 4,000 were referred to specialists for the suspected condition in the last year. And 80% ended up being treated for it, according to Return2Play, a team of head injury specialists who work with school-age sports players. Among those hurt, 73% were playing rugby, but other sports, including football and hockey, resulted in injuries.

Dr Sam Barke, head of sports medicine at Return2Play, says there is a lack of awareness around head injuries, and treatment is hit and miss.

He said: “There will be schools reliant on the NHS to provide that care. For much of the time, that will be fine but the advice given by GPs is extremely variable.”

The England Rugby Football Schools Union encouraged teachers, parents and guardians of child rugby players to take part in its online course. And the Rugby Football Union said it offered resources “to support clubs, colleges, schools, universities, players and parents”.

The data comes after it emerged top rugby players were among nearly 300 bringing legal action against governing bodies over brain injuries.

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