Get Yourself In Working Order
Injury management involves identifying, treating and recovering from an injury. Players who return to play before they have fully recovered end up missing about three times as much play as they would have if they had completely healed before resuming play.
Phases Of Injury Management
- Return to play.
Who takes responsibility in your team if there's a serious injury?
Each team needs to appoint a person, present at the match, who is responsible for the immediate management of injured players. Preferably the same person should complete and return any serious injury report forms to their Provincial Union.
Phase 1 - Acute
There are a few basic things that you can make sure happen immediately after an injury has occurred - this is called the immediate phase. Coaches and players should be 100% familiar with these procedures.
Suspected Spinal Injury
In the event of a suspected spinal or other serious injury:
GET HELP FIRST, and GET IT FAST
Call 111 for an Ambulance.
Don't move the player until qualified medical personnel arrive! A player may have suffered a severe neck injury, and yet still be able to move. If the spine is unstable, and they are moved, they run the risk of permanent paralysis. Referees and coaches should err on the side of caution and seek medical assistance in the event of any potentially serious injury.
For All Other Injuries
If the injury disrupts play, get the player assessed on the field so you can decide whether to keep the player on or take them off.
Assessing The Injury
For effective assessment of an injury, remember T.O.T.A.P.S.
- Ask the player what happened.
- Where does it hurt?
- What kind of pain is it?
- Look at the affected area for redness or swelling.
- Is the injured side different from the other side?
- Feel for lumps, depression, swelling, heat, points of tenderness
- Soft tissues
Ask the injured player to move the injured part without any help.
If the player can move the injured part, carefully try to move it yourself through its full range of motion.
Did the active and passive movement produce pain? If no, can the player stand and demonstrate some of the skills from the game? If an injury is identified, remove the player from the activity immediately.
PHASE 2 - REHABILITATION
Rehabilitation focuses on restoring the player’s full functions and rugby-specific abilities to prevent re-injury and encourage their best possible performance. In this phase the player should be building up muscle strength around the injured area, working towards getting the full movement back in the joint, getting their balance back and keeping fit through activities like swimming and cycling. Once they are ready they need to gradually build in light rugby-specific skills and drills, extending themselves at training only as much as the injury allows.
The player needs support to:
- Restore strength.
- Restore range of motion.
- Restore co-ordination and control.
- Restore balance.
- Maintain fitness.
- Build confidence.
- Restore their rugby-specific ability.
PHASE 3 - DEMONSTRATION OF PRE-INJURY- PERFORMANCE LEVEL FOLLOWED BY RETURN TO PLAY
This is when the coach, doctor or physiotherapist puts a player through a set of tests to see if they are ready to get back out on the field.
These tests should be a combination of those you used for the fitness tests at the start of the season and rugby skills and moves that the player will have to make during a game – like side stepping and tackling.
You can use the Player Profiling information you recorded earlier in the year to see whether a player is ready to return to play based on a comparison of performance.
Remember – if your players continue playing with an injury they increase the chance of a further, more severe injury.
Restore rugby-specific skills and techniques e.g. jumping, throwing, kicking.
When the rugby-specific skills are done at the same level as they were before the injury, the player can return to the activity.
Don’t play hurt!
THE COACH'S FIRST AID KIT
- Surgical gloves.
- Small towel.
- Compression bandages.
- Adhesive tape.
- Band-aids, plasters.
- Antiseptic solutions, eg Savlon.
- Eye wash.
- Scissors (not with sharp points).
- A sling bandage.
- Sterile gauze dressing.
- Ice should be available as well.