Junior contact sports are being urged to exercise extreme caution when managing suspected concussions after a 13-year-old rugby league player was rushed to hospital in a serious condition.
It is understood Macarthur Saints player Jarrod Fletcher was knocked in the head and kept playing before he later collapsed on the Campbelltown field in south-western Sydney on Saturday.
He was flown to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in a serious condition but has since improved after coming out of the induced coma.
Former Sydney Roosters team doctor and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) spokesman Dr John Orchard said it was crucial that all junior sporting codes had personnel trained in the recognition and management of concussion.
“Recently updated rugby league guidelines state that any player displaying signs of concussion should receive an urgent medical assessment and should in no circumstances return to play,” Dr Orchard said.
“Children have significant physical, physiological and development differences that place them at long term risk if sports-related concussion is not managed appropriately.”
Currently, fewer than 20 per cent of concussed children are actually diagnosed with concussion, he added.
“This needs to change if there is any doubt at all, sit them out,” he said.
He said symptoms included loss of consciousness, confusion, memory disturbance, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and/or unsteadiness.
“Once removed from play, any child suspected of concussion should then be medically assessed as soon as possible,” Dr Orchard said.
“Concussion not only affects a child’s sporting activities, it may impact a child’s learning at school.”