Concussion knowledge and attitudes among amateur South African rugby players
Background: The South African Rugby Unionâ€™s BokSmart programme currently educates coaches and referees on concussion. Rugby players are often more familiar with their teammates than the coach or referee. Therefore they are well-positioned to play a pivotal role in rugby safety if they have adequate knowledge to identify subtle signs and abnormal behaviour displayed by a concussed teammate. However, no programme focuses on concussion education among South African rugby players and there is a dearth of literature on concussion education programmes among rugby players which could lead to safer return to play (RTP) habits.
Objectives: To evaluate South African rugby playersâ€™ concussion knowledge and attitudes/behaviours regarding RTP following a concussion.
Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional study was used. Participants (n=294) were divided into junior amateur high school (JAHS) (n=216) and senior amateur club (SAC) (n=78) players. The modified RoCKAS-ST questionnaire was used to evaluate their concussion knowledge index (CKI) and concussion attitudes/behaviours index (CAI) regarding RTP.
Results: On average, 62% (JAHS) and 60% (SAC) of the CKI questions were answered correctly. JAHS participants correctly identified 66% of concussion symptoms, similarly to the SAC participants (63%), rendering similar (p=0.37) overall CKI scores when comparing the two groups. The CAI questions yielded similar (p=0.98) results between the groups, reporting safe responses in 66% (JAHS) and 67% (SAC) of the items.
Discussion and conclusion: Junior and senior South African amateur rugby players lacked approximately one-third of essential concussion knowledge, which may lead to a display of unsafe attitudes/behaviours to concussion and RTP. Further research is warranted to inform educational programmes on concussion among rugby players.
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