Experts agree that sports and exercise, generally speaking, are good for you. However, different forms of sport have different advantages – and disadvantages. Every sport carries its own risks, and injuries are common. However, whilst a sport like tennis can produce thousands of sprains, scraped elbows and back injuries, it simply doesn’t carry the same risk as contact sports like rugby do.
One of the biggest concerns in contact sports is the risk of concussion. This was brought to the headlines by the death of teenager Ben Robinson in 2011 during a rugby game at his school in Northern Ireland. His death was found to be the result of “second impact syndrome” caused by suffering a second concussion injury before he had recovered from a first. His father is leading a campaign for more education regarding concussion in the school curriculum, and the Welsh government has recently released new guidelines as a result.
Concussion is a risk at all levels of sport, not just in schools and communities – UEFA is introducing new rules regarding head injuries in football following two incidents during the World Cup – but the facilities available at schools and communities are very different to those provided at top level sporting events. Without team doctors on hand, what can be done at the grass roots level to ensure that these risks are reduced?
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, if a suspected concussion or any other injury is suffered during sports it is vital to get treatment as quickly as possible. Having a trained first-aider on site for every practice and match is a wise precaution and not one that is prohibitively expensive – you can easily get first aid training in Peterborough from organisations like Human Touch, and similar companies operate throughout the UK.
Secondly, it is important to ensure that adequate safety equipment is provided. For rugby players, a mouthguard can be a very important piece of kit, helping in the prevention of concussion as well as protecting players’ teeth. Headguards can also help, providing some vital padding around the head.
Thirdly, it is vital that the sport is played correctly. There are rules against foul play in rugby just as in any sport – making sure that the players know how to tackle correctly, and play in the spirit of fairness and sportsmanship can go a long way towards preventing injuries.
The fact is that while there are dangers to contact sports – as with any sports – they can be managed with the right precautions and the right treatment, so if your choice is rugby or watching TV, the healthy option is definitely still to play sports!