Sports Medicine Australia's (SMA) concussion themed issue of Sport Health (SMA) highlights that dealing with concussion appropriately is more important in junior sport than at any other level.
SMA Chief Executive Officer, Nello Marino said the treatment of concussion is a serious issue facing all contact sports, at both the professional and community levels.
"Being able to correctly identify a concussion and deal with it accordingly is a skill anyone involved with junior sport should possess. Once identified the number one objective should be the safety and health of that child," said Mr Nello Marino.
Author of the Sport Health article, Neurosurgeon Professor Gavin Davis states that sports concussion is more common in junior sport than in any other group of athletes; however it is generally accepted that fewer than 20 per cent of concussed children are diagnosed with concussion, with fewer still seeking medical attention.
This needs to change.
"Children are not merely 'little adults' but have significant physical, physiological and development differences that place them at long term risk if sports concussion is not managed appropriately.
"Management of concussion is very simple. If there is any suspicion of a concussion, the child must be removed from the field of play, be medically assessed, and not allowed to return to play that day," said Professor Davis.
Once concussion has been identified, return to school rather than a return to sport is the goal.
"It is critical for the child's cognitive development that return to activity is introduced in a stepwise fashion, and that management of concussion in the child is more conservative than in adults. The child's ability to return to learn depends on it," said Professor Davis.
"This means no sport, school, reading, computer, internet, electronic games in the first few days following concussion and a medical clearance is necessary before returning to any of these activities," said Professor Davis.
Sports Medicine Australia advocates for all junior sporting clubs to have an accredited sports first aider or sport trainer available during practice and training as they are crucial in the management of concussion.
"The first few moments following a concussion are vital. Having properly trained safety personnel on the sidelines is a key part of providing a safe environment, to prevent injuries, and limit the impact of injuries on players," said Mr Marino.