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Compulsory concussion education

A new partnership to deliver concussion education to student PE teachers

In a major step forward for concussion education in Scotland, all first and fourth year PE teaching students at the Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences (ISPEHS) at the University of Edinburgh will now be required to complete a mandatory concussion course as part of their degree. 

With an estimated 50% of concussions going unreported, and young people aged between 10 and 19 most affected by concussion, upskilling PE teachers to give them the tools they need to identify and support students with concussion could be a game changer.  

Almost 100 first year students took part in the workshop on day one, with another 90+ fourth year students on day two. 

The first session was delivered by Dr Stephanie Adams, Founder of ConcussEd, and Dr Katy Stewart, Head of Research and Education at the Hampden Sports Clinic, who are both educators contracted by sportscotland to deliver concussion education. The students were led through a series of practical exercises to evaluate their current understanding of concussion and their role as PE teachers. They were also given an overview of best practise to follow and advice on how to explain concussion management protocols to parents, coaches and teammates. A critical part of the process is to ensure that anyone with a suspected concussion is immediately removed from play and monitored over the hours, days and weeks that follow, and that they don’t return to education or sport too quickly as this could lengthen recovery. 

The educators shared the story of Ben Robinson, a young rugby player who sadly lost his life due to second impact syndrome as a schoolboy. Ben’s father, Peter, is one of the driving forces behind the Scottish concussion guidelines and education programme. The key message being “If in doubt, sit them out”.

This latest development builds on the longstanding relationship between ConcussEd and the University of Edinburgh to deliver concussion education workshops to the PE programme and the University’s student athletes.  

Dr Adams of ConcussEd, said: “Knowing what to do when and if a concussion occurs is a valuable life skill and PE teachers have a valuable role to play. It’s important that teachers have good concussion awareness and feel confident in their ability to act and help to change concussion culture for the better – we all have a role to play. I am delighted to see the programme expanding with the support of sportscotland.” 

June Murray, ISPEHS, MAPE Year 1 Professional Learning Week Director & Placement Coordinator explained why the University was keen to develop the partnership:  

“Our past history of involvement with Dr Stephanie Adams and ConcussEd has been as part of Professional Learning Week (PLW) – one week each semester where the students are offered a suite of professional and practical workshops which they opt into depending on their particular developmental needs as student teachers of PE. Through our partnerships with ConcussEd and sportscotland I am delighted that we have been able to take the significant step forward from opt-in to mandatory delivery. This gives a powerful message about the importance we place on concussion awareness. 

“Not surprisingly, many of our future teachers of PE are also elite athletes and this course raises awareness on a number of levels - concussion prevention, identification and management of their own health and wellbeing and additionally supports them to use this secure knowledge-base for the benefit of their pupils’ health and wellbeing. As educators they are supported to share and promote their knowledge with department personnel and schools and thus helping establish concussion-aware teaching colleagues and schools. 

“With this new status for concussion within UoE, we have appointed two Concussion Ambassadors, recruited through our EdBudds (Educational Buddies) Peer Support System, guided and supported by Dr Colin Brough – further evidence of the importance we are placing on this new partnership. 

“Our association with ConcussEd and sportscotland will continue to be invaluable in upskilling the teaching profession in concussion prevention and management strategies. We welcome the expansion to our students learning through this valued collaboration.” 

Forbes Dunlop, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: "This is a significant step in our collaborative work on concussion education across the sporting system. 

"Concussion in sport is a serious issue and our aim is to ensure that more people involved in sport, and particularly grassroots sport, are confident in their ability to recognise and manage a concussion. We know that education is key in our efforts to combat this issue and this new generation of PE teachers will have a significant role to play.”  

The education initiative builds on the success of the Scottish sports concussion guidance which was a world first when it launched in 2015 bringing together medics, sports, Scottish Government and sportscotland to produce a single concussion policy for all sports. The guidance was updated in 2018 and earlier this year, UK-wide guidance was launched, based on the Scottish model. 

Find out more

About concussion guidance and resources

About the work of ConcussED

About the Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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