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Sydney school spearheads sports head injury care

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Head trauma incurred during sport is serious, what’s more is the damage is cumulative, beginning on the school sports field, and often it isn’t until later life that the full effects come to light.

Schools are starting to tackle the problem with technology; designed in New Zealand, CSx Headguard is an automated system which manages concussion in athletes and is currently being used by the AFL, NRL, and World Rugby.

The CSx Headguard system allows parents and coaches to record a new injury, automates communication, tracks the recovery process, and improves document compliance. The system takes advances learned in professional sport to afford grassroots level participants the same level of care that is provided to professional athletes.

The system enables the collection of baseline data related to cognitive questioning, recording and managing a suspected concussion. It enables health professionals to refer to a student’s baseline data for direct comparison, assisting to make an informed decision and assessment while providing parents and guardians with advice during the process.

Once a player’s head injury is triggered in the system by the player’s coach, the player, parents, guardians, teachers/coaches and any other linked parties are all informed about the suspected concussion and receive immediate practical advice and next steps in the welfare management of the injured party.

Sydney’s Trinity Grammar School is spearheading the implementation of the system, putting the school at the forefront of world-best practice in relation to head injury management.

Trinity’s welfare management process follows the guidelines developed by Rugby Australia, giving the injured participant the highest care and most conservative approach recommended for adolescents.

The school is implementing the program for all players within its AFL, Football and Rugby teams, involving some 900 students. “It’s specific to pre-collected baseline data, and assessments that occur after an event. This means we can deal with the injury in liaison with the school’s sports doctor immediately, ensuring appropriate care is given to boys, and that parents are informed about recovery steps which are not prolonged or delayed. It also means that students won’t come back from injury too soon,” said Lachlan White, Trinity Grammar School’s Director of Sport and Co-Curricular.

Trained by the Australian Catholic University, students studying Exercise and Sport Science have been recruited to help with collection of data which follows SCAT5 testing, a standardised tool for evaluating head injury, leading to an appropriate diagnosis of concussion.

Players and their guardians are actively involved in the return-to-play process with the ‘symptom tracking’ feature to log symptoms daily. This provides an insight into recovery for players, guardians and most importantly health care professionals. The Trinity team doctor can access the student’s baseline data when making decisions about progression in recovery or clearance to return to school or play.

“We have a huge responsibility to look after our students and concussion has been an area of great concern. With around 900 students involved in the three major ball sports where head injuries occur, it was difficult to track every athlete’s progress and return to play status. This system allows us to do just that by simplifying the process and providing a summary of all our athletes in one streamlined app. It lets the school record injuries, monitor recovery and helps to manage compliance in accordance to sporting regulation,” White said.

“It also helps us deal with these sorts of injuries in a very timely and systematic way. The system provides word and number recall tests which help the doctor assess a head injury and record the results for long-term management of a student’s welfare. For the student it provides advice and suggests at-home tasks with results available for our team doctor and other healthcare professionals. For parents, it provides advice about warning signs to look out for and explanations of the next steps in their child’s recovery process.”

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