The UCI has set out new concussion protocols that are designed to increase rider safety and reduce long-term effects on memory, speech and reaction speeds following a serious crash.
The new protocols are built on the 2017 Berlin concussion consensus statement but have been tailored to the sport of cycling. Sports Related Concussions (SRC) are estimated to account for between 1.3% and 9.1% of injuries in cycling, depending on the discipline. Concussion Assessment
The UCI identified that reaching an injured rider in a good amount of time is the biggest obstacle in treating concussion at cycling events and mountain biking is a sport that is particularly at risk for this. To combat this, the protocol recommends that non-health professionals, including racers, mechanics and coaches be trained in recognising the signs of concussion and making the correct initial assessment. The UCI says the signs of a concussion include, "feeling stunned or dazed, trouble with balance, headaches, slurred speech, changes in vision" and that it will be publishing training resources in the form of symptoms cards to help these non-health professionals.
When a medical professional arrives at the scene, they will carry out a more thorough investigation of the symptoms including tests of orientation to time and place (Maddocks questions) and balance. After the initial assessment a SCAT5 tool assessment should be carried out and this should be taken again the next day. All concussions should be made known to the UCI Medical Director. This will allow the SRCs to be monitored and traced as scientific research has shown that repeated SRC events can have serious neurobiological consequences for athletes.Return to Competition
The UCI advocates that athletes suffering a concussion should have a period of complete rest of between 24 and 48 hours and not return to competition for at least a week after their symptoms have cleared up (two weeks in the case of juniors).
This marks a change from the current guidelines
that state "For appropriate clinical evaluation for suspected concussion, for concussion management and return to training and competition doctors should refer to the published guidelines (Consensus statement on concussion in Sport – 4th International Conference, Zurich 2012) and the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT 3) and any update thereof."
The new guidelines will be introduced in 2021 and the UCI Medical Rules will be updated in January to reflect this.
The full document can be read, here