Newcastle Thunder implement revolutionary concussion assessment protocol

The way in which concussions assessments are tracked is set to be revolutionized – by Newcastle Thunder.

Michael Heap, the Academy Manager at the League 1 club, has developed a traffic light wristband system in order to help communicate player’s recovery progress to coaches, parents and teachers.

He explained: “Under the system, we have attached either a red, amber or green wristband to each of the stages of the Graduated Return to Play protocols. From being diagnosed with concussion our players will wear a red wristband. This will stay with them during their period of complete rest.

“An amber wristband is worn by those who are going through stages 2-5 which progresses from light aerobic exercise to full contact training provided the athlete is symptom free.

“A green wristband will be worn upon the return to play and serves as a visual reminder that the player has recently returned from a head injury.”

The wristbands will also carry the date of the injury and the anticipated return date of a player, and the movement has already been rolled out within the club.

“We’ve started it with our Under 16s academy, with the parents of the players all on board and the feedback has been good. We have one player who has completed the process and he found it very beneficial.

“With a concussion, it’s not like a broken arm say where you can see the injury with a cast so we are hoping that the wrist band provides an indicator to both players and adults and reminds them of the importance of adhering fully to the GRTP protocol.

“This gives them something to back it up and hopefully makes people more aware of the importance of the return to play protocol.”

Should the trial prove successful, the Heap is hoping the protocol could be used in the wider game.

“We’re working with major stakeholders within North East Rugby League, as well as our colleagues in rugby union, and the plan is potentially to roll it out to all the clubs when the Rugby League community game restarts.”