Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Raftery positive about IRB message

IRB chief medical officer Martin Raftery believes concussion message "is getting out there".

International Rugby Board chief medical officer Martin Raftery believes the message "is getting out there" regarding concussion guidelines in the sport.

Raftery has also said the IRB acknowledges a suggested possible link between playing contact sports and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

"CTE is a form of dementia, and there are studies about boxers and American football players who have suffered repetitive head injuries, so we recognise that there might be a potential link," Raftery said.

"However, prevention is key and we have implemented an approach that is in line with expert recommendations to mitigate risk of long-term implications.

"They are to eliminate deliberate hits to the head, which is banned in rugby, implement strict graduated return to play protocols, which we have, and educate best practice technique."

Raftery is confident the IRB's concussion prevention, education, awareness and management guidelines are making an impact throughout the sport.

"The message is getting out there," he added, in comments published on www.irb.com.

"Our Unions understand the importance, and players are now much better educated and understand why it would be foolish to ignore protocols.

"We continue to do as much as we can with respect to concussion research, and the IRB is taking the issue very seriously."

The IRB's world rugby conference and exhibition is currently under way in Dublin, with a medical commission conference also taking place.

"Rugby is a physical contact sport and that is part of the fabric and attraction for those who want to play the game," he said.

"However, our duty is to ensure that the sport implements the very best standards of care to protect our players.

"We have a very clear message to the rugby family - 'If in doubt, sit it out'.

"Players, coaches, medics, parents and officials at all levels of the game should all recognise the symptoms of concussion and remove any player from the field of play who they suspect to be concussed. They must not return."

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