Dr Dominic Malcolm, Reader in Sociology Sport, argues that while many changes have been introduced in recent years, there are many limitations which must be addressed:
- All existing protocols treat concussions as having a singular rather than cumulative impact on health
- Current protocols treat children more conservatively than adults
- Existing monitoring and evaluation is limited at best
The report also recommends three radical future changes to ensure a safer and more robust environment surrounding the issue of concussion:
- Combine sport medicine and public health under a new concussion regulatory body
- Review employment practices to protect the clinical autonomy of sports healthcare workers
- Invoke comprehensive cultural change so that the precautionary principle currently applied to concussion applies to all sports injuries
Dr Dominic Malcolm explained:
“Professional sport can be a highly dangerous occupation and whilst many sports governing bodies have made significant strides towards managing brain injuries, the government inquiry reflects public concerns that more should be done.
“There are both some quick wins and longer terms changes that can be made to reduce the dangers and so safeguard the future of these highly popular and culturally important activities.”
The paper is published as the government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) meet to discuss the scientific evidence on head trauma in sport and links with neurodegenerative disease such as dementia.