Interview: Understanding the School Sports Concussion Programme

Many parents have received messages from their children’s schools and other sources about so-called “baseline testing” for concussion. Some schools are even making these tests compulsory for boys playing rugby at school. Mary Ann and myself at Positive Sport Parent  have been asked by a number of parents what the School Sports Concussion Programme is, how it works, and why their children should have these baseline tests.

It appears that there are many misconceptions about this programme. Parents are of course concerned about their children getting concussed but don’t know if or how these tests would prevent or aid in the treatment of concussion. Also, parents commonly didn’t really understand concussion itself.

So we thought the best way to answer these questions and learn more about the School Sports Concussion Programme was to talk to South Africa’s leading concussion expert, Dr Jon Patricios, founder and director of Sports Concussion South Africa and the Schools Sports Concussion Programme.

In the first part of the interview I asked Dr Patricios to explain concussion, and to clarify how it differs from losing consciousness. He spoke to us about why it is so important for parents to understand concussion, and its effects on children. He also outlined the main symptoms to help us identify concussion. An important factor to consider once your child has been concussed, is returning to sport at the right time.

In the second part of the interview we then chatted about the School Sports Concussion Programme specifically, trying to understand how the baseline testing works and why it must be done annually. Dr Patricios also gives us details on how to access the programme if your school is not formally involved already.


Dr Jon Patricios, MBBCh MMedSci FACSM FFSEM (UK), is a practicing Sports Physician, and is currently the President of South African Sports Medicine Association. Dr Patricios is the founder and director of Sports Concussion South Africa and the Schools Sports Concussion Programme. He is globally recognized as an expert in this field, having written for various publications and presented at international conferences.

The Schools Sports Concussion Programme, supported by Panado, is now in its 6th year, being well established in various schools across the country. As parents of athletes, especially those involved in contact sports like Rugby, we are often concerned about our children’s safety, but still want them to enjoy their sport to the full! This programme aims to make contact and collision sport safer, and to assist with the recovery of concussion patients.

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