MORE than a quarter of children who suffer a concussion are sent back out to play on the same day.
A new Murdoch Children's Research Institute study has found that many sporting clubs, schools and parents are putting their children at risk of further injury by failing to follow international concussion guidelines.
The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne is setting up a concussion clinic to cater for an increasing number of children presenting with sports-related head injuries.
In the past seven months, 300 children came to the emergency department with this type of injury.
Monash University honours medical student Harini Haran conducted a study on 90 children with concussion, who had an average age of 12.
More than a quarter were not immediately assessed by a medical professional, despite suffering symptoms ranging from loss of consciousness to vomiting.
A total of 28 per cent of injured children returned to play on the same day.
The results of the study, which is being presented at the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine in Adelaide this week, found that overall two in five children with head injuries did not adhere to concussion guidelines.
More than half of all injuries were suffered during AFL. Soccer accounted for 12 per cent and rugby 7 per cent.
While sporting organisations have adopted the guidelines, Ms Haran said more than 90 per cent of parents were unaware of the rules around concussion.
"The majority of parents were not told what to do by their club or their school, about how to manage concussion and return to sport."
She said the guidelines mandated that a child should immediately be taken off the field, assessed by a medical professional, and should not return to sport on the same day to reduce the risk of a second injury.
Her supervisor, MCRI and University of Melbourne researcher Associate Professor Franz Babl, said one of the big public misunderstandings was that concussion always involved a loss of consciousness.
In the study, almost half of patients reported headaches, and around a third had experienced a loss of consciousness and disorientation. More than a quarter reported amnesia and 20 per cent vomited.
Almost three quarters of children involved in the study followed the RCH advice to return to sport slowly over a minimum of one week.
Doctors are urging parents and sporting clubs to ensure they know the rules on managing concussions and stick to them to protect their children from further injuries and a protracted recovery, which may affect their learning ability.