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New concussion guidance for athletes in grassroots sport underlines key message of ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ | UK News

The first UK-wide concussion guidelines for athletes in grassroots sports – urging against any return to playing within 24 hours of a head injury – have been published by the government.

Caution is being advised with the message: “If in doubt, sit them out.”

But any risk is being balanced with still encouraging people to play sport for the health benefits in the guidelines produced by the government and Sport and Recreation Alliance.

They are a response to growing concerns about the potential neurodegenerative conditions among former football and rugby players, with research showing they can be more likely to develop dementia or Parkinson’s than the general population as a result of repeated blows to the head.

The group that drafted the guidelines was chaired by Professor James Calder – a renowned surgeon who has operated on football stars including Gareth Bale and Neymar.

He told Sky News: “We know that sports and exercise is good for both mental health and physical health.

“We need to have some guidance, should a person have a concussive event. And there hasn’t been UK-wide guidance.

“Scotland introduced some guidance several years ago and… it seems appropriate that we actually produce UK-wide guidance that can then be rolled out through to all different types of sports.”

The guidelines advise against phone and computer use for at least the first 48 hours after a suspected concussion to “improve recovery”.

They add: “Anyone with concussion should generally rest for 24-48 hours but can undertake easy activities of daily living and walking, but must avoid intense exercise, challenging work, or sport.

“They can then progress through the graduated return to activity (education/work) and sport programme.

“Anyone with symptoms that last longer than 28 days should be assessed and managed by an appropriate healthcare professional.”

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January 2023: Concussion subs trial rejected

Read more:
Brain injury campaigners ‘bitterly disappointed’ as Premier League trial of temporary concussion substitutes rejected

Retired rugby players who suffered concussions more depressed and anxious, study suggests

But staying on the pitch or making a speedy return can be hard to resist – even after a blow to the head.

Simon Shaw was always thinking about the present – playing as much rugby as possible for England and the British and Irish Lions before campaigning on concussion.

He told Sky News: “I was playing a high contact sport. I was prepared to take the risks, whether that’s a dislocated shoulder or broken ankle or whatever there was.

“There was obviously a lot of bravado in our sport. I tried to stay on the pitches as often as possible, but I was acutely aware that there could be problems in the future.”

That is why he is backing the guidelines published today, adding: “Just making sports, whatever the risk of concussion, a much safer place is very important for the health and wellbeing of the nation.”

England's Simon Shaw (right) runs at New Zealand's Brad Thorn during the Investec Challenge Series 2009 match at Twickenham, London.
England’s Simon Shaw in 2009 playing against New Zealand

This guidance is aimed at grassroots sport where medics won’t often be there to treat suspected concussions like last week in the Premier League – a fall led to Jan Bednarek being substituted by Southampton, despite the defender wanting to play on at Arsenal.

For those researching degenerative brain disease it’s about managing the safe return to playing after head traumas – not deterring people from playing.

The goal is one day having saliva or blood tests for concussion.

“We don’t have it yet, and we’re working hard,” said Professor Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

“We made a lot of progress the last few years that would have been unthinkable before then. But we have… some way to go.”

Boxer Amir Khan banned from sport for two years after testing positive for banned substance | UK News

Former Olympic medallist Amir Khan has been banned from participating in any sport for two years over his use of a prohibited substance.

The ban will last until 5 April 2024. It comes after the boxer’s urine sample following his fight against Kell Brook in February 2022 tested positive for ostarine, UK Anti-Doping said in a statement.

Ostarine is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list. It is designed to promote muscle building, has a similar effect to testosterone and is banned from use in all sports.

Khan, 36, had claimed his consumption of ostarine was “unintentional” so his case was referred to an independent tribunal.

The panel found two violations – presence and use of a prohibited substance – in January before it confirmed the decision in writing in February. Khan was then given a provisional ban on 6 April.

UKAD chief executive Jane Rumble said: “This case serves as a reminder that UKAD will diligently pursue Anti-Doping Rule Violations in order to protect clean sport.”

Former World Of Sport presenter Dickie Davies dies aged 94 | UK News

Former World Of Sport presenter Dickie Davies has died at the age of 94.

Davies is best known for fronting the ITV show between 1968 and its end in 1985.

Davies’ former colleague Jim Rosenthal wrote on Twitter: “With huge sadness we announce Dickie Davies passed away this morning.

“So proud of his 20 years of World Of Sport, three Olympic Games and a brilliant career on the telly.

“He is survived by a loving wife, two adoring sons, four grandkids and two beloved dogs.”

He described Davies as “a wonderful friend and colleague”.

Former Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys added his tribute, writing on Twitter: “Dickie Davies. A legend.

“It’s the end of that era.

“A kind man and brilliant broadcaster.

“RIP Dickie.”

Davies was born Richard Davies in Wallasey in 1928 but changed his name to Dickie in 1968 at the behest of his friend, footballer and pundit Jimmy Hill.

Before he was on TV screens, he completed national service with the RAF and worked as head purser on the ocean liner Queen Mary.

In 1961, he became an announcer for Southern Television and became understudy to Eamonn Andrews in 1965 when ITV launched its rival to Grandstand, originally known as Wide World Of Sport.

When Andrews departed three years later, Davies took over the main presenting role.

After ITV pulled the plug on the programme in 1985, Davies fronted a number of other sports for the channel – including the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a number of early Mike Tyson fights – before leaving in 1989 to present snooker on the then Sky-owned Eurosport.

He did a stint as sports editor on Classic FM but had a stroke in 1995 which temporarily left him unable to speak.

But after a near-full recovery he returned to the screen for a number of specials, including ITV’s 50-year World Of Sport anniversary in 2005.