Injury is a frequent unintended consequence of playing sport. Concussion is now the most commonly recorded injury in professional rugby union in England and is increasing in incidence.

Former C4TS Public and Policy lead, Professor Allyson Pollock, published her influential book “Tackling rugby. What every parent should know about injuries” in 2014. Her team also published two systematic reviews, one on general injury in youth rugby and one on concussion in youth rugby along with a paper in the British Medical Journal on injury prevention in rugby. In conjunction with this work the team also analysed the Oxford injury data alongside an extract of Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) data from Oxford for insights into the nature of sport injury in hospital emergency departments. MSc, iBSc and SSC4 students also worked on dissertations analysing the data on the topic of head injury and geographical factors in injuries plus a background systematic review into concussion in children in sport and outcomes. Professor Pollock's team also took part in a very successful seminar on cycling injury organised by the Barts Charity and hosted by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow (February 2014).

Children and Sport workshop: November 2014

A workshop was held in November 2014 to explore the debates surrounding childrens’ participation in sport: potential for injury risk, the focus on competitive sport above physical activity, the lack of data collection on sport-related injuries. The two-day workshop was attended by key academics and public health experts in these topic areas, and led to an immediate submission of written evidence to the Health Select Committee’s Inquiry into the Impact of Physical Activity and Diet on Health.

Governance of Sporting Bodies and Child Injury Prevention

Research and lobbying undertaken Professor Pollock's team has helped change the UK government’s sports strategy.

In December 2015, Sports Minister Tracy Couch published the government’s new strategy in response to four months of consultation, which includes the inclusion of more general fitness activities as well as formal sports, and a recognition of the need of a duty of care for sports participants.

Professor Pollock campaigned for more than a year to increase government awareness of the injury statistics in sport, particularly amongst school children, and the need for more safety-conscious sports governance and promotion of fitness and activity over formal sports.

The government announced it had changed its position on, and more importantly funding to, formal sport in schools and sports bodies for children, now switching to promoting physical activity and safety and good governance and shifting the emphasis away from only funding formal sport to more general fitness. 

Professor Pollock's team, in collaboration with other academic institutions, played a significant role in this decision. They held high profile seminars on injury in rugby attended by many key sports scholars as well as concerned members of the public, and generated peer review publications on sports injury. The team also presented their collective research as evidence to the health select committee.

The evidence submitted to the health select committee included a call for guidance and oversight on communicating the risks of sport, a greater emphasis on promoting physical activity from non-competitive sport, and a recognition that ‘one size does not fit all’ when considering the needs of boys and girls in curriculum development and prioritisation of sports.



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