Study into concussion care and recovery

Headache Clinic founder Helen Tufui helps Southland Stags player Rory van Vugt with his grip strength test as part of Test NZ Baseline event in Invercargill last Friday.

A SOUTHLAND woman is on a mission to knock out the long-term effects of concussion.

Headache Clinic founder Helen Tufui was concerned with the increasing numbers and stories of New Zealand athletes suffering long-term concussion problems.

She wanted to help people across the country to tackle the issue as most of the cases were avoidable.

‘‘It is actually preventable if only you know when you are ready to return to sport and when your brain has fully recovered.

‘‘If you return too early and you sustain a second injury before your brain is fully recovered, the risk you will have ongoing persistent symptoms is really high.’’

With this in mind, Mrs Tufui launched the Test NZ Baseline free event at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill last weekend, where a team of specialists carried out tests on attendees to have their medical and neurological baseline tested and recorded.

Mrs Tufui said the baseline test recorded their healthy function on a national database when the individual was well to provide a reference point.

‘‘It is usually available for athletes and often is expensive to run but with the help and support of our community, we are putting a free baseline testing concussion for everyone in our community. After Southland, we want to take this initiative to other regions.’’

Between 1997-2019, concussions presented to emergency departments had increased threefold, she said.

‘‘We are a sporting nation, so we need to be proactive on this, I’m passionate to see our sporting communities tested, not just our elite athletes. I’d like to see this syndrome become a thing of the past.’’

Southland Stags player Rory van Vugt (24) was among the people who took the opportunity to go through the process on Friday.

He had picked up just one concussion in his career two years ago and was off the field for about 10 days.

‘‘It wasn’t too bad. I’m probably pretty lucky at this stage but also pretty young and early in the career.’’

To be aware of body limits was paramount for any sportsperson, he said.