Wednesday 15 February 2012 | Published in Regional
It’s taken years of work and plenty of personal sacrifices, but sports therapist Janice Clook says her campaign to raise awareness on concussion and the need for mouth guards in rugby is catching on.
Clook has been campaigning for years to improve knowledge of concussions and their long- and short-term effects on rugby players.
Although Clook works as a sports therapist at her natural therapy clinic, she said she was driven by personal loss to help foster better understanding of head injuries in all forms of rugby.
Clook, who has been living in the Cook Islands for 10 years, has dedicated herself to the cause since living through personal tragedy.
“I once lost a boyfriend to head injuries, though they weren’t rugby related,” Clook explains.
“I just don’t want anybody else to go through what I’ve been through.”
To this end, Clook has been visiting with rugby clubs from league, union, sevens, masters and golden oldie competitions for about three-and-a-half years now.
This year she said she felt a certain personal victory when the Cook Islands Rugby League adopted New Zealand’s policies on concussions and head injuries.
As an added bonus, CIRL president Charles Carlson said the league would next year begin enforcing rules that make mouth guards compulsory for players.
That’s something Clook has been campaigning for, too.
But her main passion is for raising awareness of head concussions and their impact on a person’s life.
Clook said she has spent thousands of dollars printing pamphlets on head injuries to help spread the word.
She said the long-term effects of concussion include everything from frequent headaches, changes in mood, problems with balance, memory loss, learning difficulties, depression and even epilepsy and possibly paralysis.
Clook said a concussion was effectively like sustaining brain damage and although suffering one concussion was worrying enough, having it happen two or three times was downright dangerous.
If someone is suspected of suffering a concussion, Clook said they should be left out of rugby matches for at least three weeks and be cleared by a doctor before returning to the field.
If it happens again, she said the player should sit out the entire season. Three times and its retirement.
Anyone looking for more information on concussions can visit Clook at her Are Meitaki Natural Therapy Clinic or by phoning 28833 or 56476.