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CRL Teams Up With Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust to Tackle Concussion Awareness and Recovery

The Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust are delighted to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canterbury Rugby League. Hear more on this partnership from the CLR below

CRL Teams Up With Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust to Tackle Concussion Awareness and Recovery

CRL has signed a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding with the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust, providing invaluable support and education to our rugby league community.

This MoU – a first for the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust with a regional sporting body – aims to ensure everyone in our sport has access to the necessary information, support and treatment in regards to head injuries and concussion.

“CRL are excited and feel very privileged to sign this MoU with the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust,” Canterbury Rugby League CEO Malcolm Humm says.

“We recognise head injuries and concussions occur in our game from time to time. In light of this, as the regional body for rugby league, we believe we have a responsibility to provide expert support and advice to players who sustain these injuries.

“What the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust will be able to support our membership with is monitoring, assessment and recovery plans, through to a return to sport plan.

“Additionally, and as part of the MoU, they will provide education workshops to clubs, coaches, parents and CRL as a preventive measure.

“We feel the timing is perfect as NZRL recently released its new concussion policy, which marries well with the support CRL and its membership will receive from Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust.”

The Trust was established in 1967 and supports those impacted by brain injury in Canterbury and its surrounding regions – a provider unique to the South Island and one of only three in New Zealand.

Over 220 specialised staff in the charity’s interdisciplinary team which includes speech language therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, dietitians, social workers, nurses and rehab coaches who work together to provide an integrated approach to rehabilitation and recovery.

“We see people who’ve had traumatic brain injury from all walks of life for all different reasons, and sports is one of the areas,” LFBIT CEO Kathryn Jones says.

“Our whole vision and our values relate to how people are treated – inclusively, [making sure] they’re treated respectfully and that we do the best that we possibly can so that people get the right treatment at the right time and recover.

“We are on that recovery journey with them and their families, too – that’s really important to us. I look at the values of Canterbury Rugby League and we are very aligned in terms of that inclusivity and respect.”

Māori and Pasifika make up a high proportion of Canterbury Rugby League’s demographic but, as Jones explains, are underrepresented in terms of making use of the services available to treat injuries.

“Māori and Pasifika people inherently have very low rates of making claims for injury through ACC – it’s not that they’re not getting injured, they’re just not making the claim and getting the proper treatment,” she says.

“We [want to educate] those communities so people who need help are more inclined to put in a claim and get the proper support they need after an injury.”

Jones regards rugby league as being one of the most proactive sports in caring for their players around head injuries, putting strong guidelines in place and providing wraparound support.

The danger of a ‘you’ll be right’ attitude, which Jones says still exists in some sports, is that people are missing out on the appropriate treatment for what could potentially be a serious problem.

Awareness and knowledge are crucial – and at the heart of the MoU between the Trust and Canterbury Rugby League.

“We provide free education to a whole range of organisations in the community,” Jones explains.

“We go out to see the Police, we see Work and Income, schools and community agencies … the more people who are educated about traumatic brain injury, the better.

“A brain injury occurs every 15 minutes in New Zealand – it happens a lot more often than people realise but understanding the signs and symptoms and where to get help, that’s ultimately what we want to achieve.

“We’re really keen to get out and about into the community and provide more education for rugby league players and their coaches and their families. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

Meanwhile, the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust has embarked on a capital fundraising campaign to build a centre of excellence in Christchurch, designed as a hub for a range of services for people who have suffered a traumatic brain or spinal injury.

Jones says the partnership with CRL with be beneficial in raising the profile of the Trust, which is also charity partners with Canterbury Cricket, in the local community.