Sports-related concussion relevant to the South African rugby environment – A review
Guidelines for returning a concussed player to sport had been somewhat controversial and nebulous until the emergence of a series of international consensus meetings and statements initiated in 2001. The Vienna (2001), Prague (2004) and Zurich (2009 statements as well as the American National Athletic Trainers Association (2004) and the American College of Sports Medicine (2005) position stands have given all clinicians better guidance that is more evidence-based than the somewhat subjective guidelines of the latter 20th century. Some impetus to research and the re-evaluation of assessment and management guidelines has been provided by the emergence of computerised neuropsychological test batteries as a useful barometer of cognitive recovery. However, the clinical evaluation of a concussed player remains the cornerstone of management and should incorporate a thorough symptom analysis, general, cognitive and neurological examination, and balance testing. The Sports Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) 2 card is a clinical evaluation tool intended to summarise the most significant aspects of clinical assessment. In addition, and as an essential ‘final stress’ test, the athlete must be subjected to a series of graded exercise sessions, increasing in severity, before being returned to contact or collision sport. A structured clinical evaluation is particularly important in the South African context, where computerised testing may not be accessible to many. This article serves to collate and highlight the evidence-based and consensus data available for management of the concussed rugby player in 2010.