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GUSA is making a head start when it comes to concussion.

GUSA has recently partnered up with ConcussEd, an organisation focused on providing education on sport-related concussions and offering support to sufferers. Awareness surrounding the danger of severe concussions has noticeably increased over the last decade or so. However, there is still a lack of education and support directed towards all levels of athletes and their coaches in how to deal with any level of head trauma. This partnership will hopefully educate all those who are involved in sport, both through university and beyond, and increase confidence in recognition and action should a concussion occur. Women's football treasurer, Jennifer Campbell, will be the Glasgow University Ambassador for ConcussEd this year. Throughout the year she will be in touch with different sports clubs to support concussion management and awareness, and gather information from GUSA to pass on about different experiences and best practices surrounding concussion.

University of Glasgow Sport’s Sport Development Officer, Jamie Taylor commented on the benefits and importance of this partnership between GUSA and ConcussEd: “Working in partnership with Dr Stephanie Adams and the ConcussEd team this year has been hugely valuable and enjoyable for everyone associated with Sport at the University of Glasgow. Concussion awareness and education is an extremely important area for our members of staff and club members to have an understanding in, particularly given that so many teams are student run and led. The students have remained engaged throughout and were able to apply their newfound knowledge in an effective manner. We look forward to working together with ConcussEd in the coming years through consistent delivery of evidence-based courses and CPD for our club members.”

Whilst minor concussions often pose no long-term health risks, repeated minor concussions can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is an incurable brain condition, which can be caused by both recurrent minor and major traumatic head injuries and can unfortunately only be diagnosed after the death of a patient. CTE operates very similarly to Alzheimer’s and usually leads to dementia later in life. Some key signs are memory loss, increased levels of depression and suicidal inclinations.

"Whilst minor concussions often pose no long-term health risks, repeated minor concussions can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)."

Major concussions, particularly those resulting in blackouts, can be detrimental to long term physical and mental wellbeing. Last year, GB skateboarding star Sky Brown fractured her skull in a horrific, life-threatening accident, but fortunately went on to recover. Not as lucky was US professional freestyle skier Sarah Burke. After sustaining what initially seemed like a minor head injury during training with no side effects, Sarah later died from her injuries. This is an important lesson that concussion diagnoses are not necessarily binary, and even an initial recovery can lead to devastating outcomes.

Whilst these examples are of professional athletes, who presumably are aware of the dangers of these sports, accidents like these are possible amongst recreational participants. I’ve been snowboarding for around 15 years and luckily, I’ve only sustained some minor head injuries . However, many of my friends have experienced traumatic concussions. Whilst they all recovered, many of them probably returned to sport prematurely and risked further injury. In spite of this, most people will take calculated risks; there is a balance between physical danger and enjoyment.   

If you suspect that either yourself or a friend has sustained a head injury or concussion, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Headway, like ConcussEd, is a UK based organization, which provides an extensive list of symptoms for brain injury and concussion, and what to do if you or someone you know suspects they may have sustained one. Not all brain injuries or concussions result in unconsciousness.This is a common and dangerous misconception. Sometimes, there are no immediate symptoms of a concussion, but the brain still needs time to rest and recover. A lack of recovery can result in more serious complications, such as post-concussion syndrome, which can last for months after. Headway advises that after a suspected concussion to not drink alcohol, drive nor return to contact sports until after recovery (three weeks recommended). Whilst they advise against aspirin or sleeping tablets, they do recommend paracetamol for any headaches.

All of this is not to say that people shouldn’t get involved and enjoy these sports, it’s just about being sensible and looking after yourself. There are risks involved with everything in life; you could trip up whilst walking to class or slip in your kitchen. It’s almost impossible to avoid dangerous situations, it’s just about knowing what to do when you encounter one. Hopefully, GUSA’s partnership with ConcussEd will help to raise the awareness and increase the education around concussion, so that the road to recovery can be made sooner rather than later. 


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