All sports should seriously consider the impact of head injuries and concussion and make changes to improve safety protocols, a charity has warned.
The call comes after Australian cricketer Steve Smith incorrectly passed a concussion test and was declared fit to play on after suffering a dangerous blow to the head by a cricket ball, before being ruled out of the remainder of the Ashes test.
The report has sparked the brain injury charity, Headway, to issue a renewed warning about the dangers of concussion in sport.
The organisation has long campaigned for improved safety protocols in football and rugby, but little has been done in other sports such as cricket.
Commenting on the report, Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, said: “We welcome the news that Steve Smith will take no part in the next Ashes test and wish him well.
“However, this incident should be a wake-up call for the game. Cricket has to seize the initiative and make permanent changes which will safeguard players from the possible dangers of concussion.”
“The time has come for the International Cricket Council to introduce a more robust protocol which sets a specific period that players are required to rest following a concussion. Likewise, we feel that neck/stem guards should be mandatory.”
Concussion, also known as an injury to the brain, can vary in severity. While symptoms usually only last a couple of days, untreated concussion can leave a patient with much more serious and life-long problems.
The most common signs of concussion occur within a few minutes or hours after an injury, usually including a headache accompanied by dizziness, sickness, memory loss, clumsiness, confusion, erratic behaviour and blurred vision.
Mr McCabe added: “There needs to be a cultural change in the way cricket responds to head injuries. That starts with players and medical teams at the elite level setting a good example for the grassroots to follow.”