Top international sports experts representing the IOC, FIFA and several other international sports federations met in Zurich on 1 and 2 November 2012 for the Fourth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport.
The objective of the two-day event, held at FIFA’s headquarters, was to discuss and find a consensus on the best way to manage and prevent cases of concussion in sport.
Concussion, which is one of the most common injuries in sport with potential serious long-term consequences on the health of athletes, was until recently under-diagnosed and treated. It is now fully recognised as a very serious health threat, and a number of sports federations are taking measures to protect athletes from adverse effects and to ensure that players recover adequately following an incident.
The main objective of last week’s expert discussions is to develop very practical, simple, easy-to-use tools that could be applied for coaches and for paramedical personnel on the sidelines and in grassroots sport, where there is little medical attention.
“Many of the 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) that the IOC is involved with have issues with head injuries and that’s why we are really trying to put funding into research in this area because we are trying to plug this lack of knowledge – that’s why we’re having these meetings,” said Lars Engebretsen, the IOC’s head of science and research.
Professor Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “The three previous concussion conferences stimulated us to perform research studies which allowed us to convince the International Football Association Board to adapt the Laws of the Game to punish incidents which cause concussion, such as an elbow to the head, with a red card. This has led to a significant decrease in cases of concussion. If we compare the 2002 FIFA World Cup to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we helped to cut the frequency of concussions and head injuries by half.”
The conference saw representatives from the IOC, FIFA, the NFL, the NHL, the IRB, the IIHF, the FEI, and the Australian Football League share their experience and ideas on new prevention, detection and treatment measures, with the aim of finding a common approach to this serious issue for both professional and amateur sports organisations.
The topics discussed were sideline assessment of concussion, diagnosis and return to play, difficult case management, management of paediatric concussion, long-term problems and knowledge transfer and education.
The final consensus statement paper on concussion, for which this conference provided important input, will be published in spring 2013.