Unconscious, head-injured players

Unconscious head injuries cannot tell you about any other symptoms they may have, such of a painful neck or loss of feeling for example. So, it is important that we treat all injured Rugby players with head and potential serious neck injuries in mind when we first attend to them. This is done through an approach called “manual in line stabilisation” (MILS) that simply shields and stabilises the head and neck from accidental movement. It is particularly important that nobody moves the player unnecessarily or tries to turn them on their side.

When someone is unconscious, the muscles become floppy and relaxed. The tongue – which is also a muscle - can fall back and block the airway (swallowing the tongue). Thus, the absolute priority of all injured players is to assess the airway and ensure it is open so that air can get in and out of the lungs with each breath.

The vast majority of unconscious Rugby players remain so for only a few seconds or up to a minute. It would be very unusual for a player to remain unconscious for much longer than this, but of course that is not impossible.