Concussion in Mind at Croke Park

Concussion is one of the major clouds hanging over contact sports around the world and this weekend in Dublin, an important symposium on the subject will hear the latest thinking on how it needs to be handled.

Leading concussion experts from UPMC in the United States, Bon Secours Health System in Ireland and sporting figures from the GAA will join together to share the best practices, protocols, and treatment of concussion in modern sport.

The event will feature a panel discussion involving All Ireland winning Manager with Dublin Dr Pat O’Neill, Tipperary Hurling Doctor Brendan Murphy and All-Star footballer Oisín McConville sharing their own experiences of concussion from their various involvements at all levels as players, team doctors and managers.

It will also feature input from Dr Niamh Lynch who heads up Ireland’s only paediatric concussion unit in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

Sport for Business caught up with Dr Lynch ahead of the weekend conference to find out how Ireland rates in terms of recognising the dangers.

“We are definitely getting better at the recognition and treatment of concussion, albeit off a low base,” she told us.

“This is especially the case at the elite level but there is still a lot of work needs to be done at the local levels of sport both for adults and children.”

“There is good solid data which indicates that children who are taken off the pitch immediately once a concussion is suspected will be back in action and fine again within a month.”

“If that gap between injury and exiting the pitch is extended, even by as short as a few minutes the recovery time can double and there is a greater risk of post-concussion syndrome which can lead to headaches, fatigue, loss of school time and a real impact on the way a child lives its life.”

“We need to get greater awareness among coaches, parents, teachers, and officials of just how important that initial recognition of a concussion injury is.”

“The GAA is not a major risk sport for concussion but it recognises its responsibility in raising awareness and developing greater levels of understanding and it should be applauded for hosting this event for all sports for the second year.”

“By the volume of children playing it reaches a significant sector of the population and cross-pollination of knowledge and understanding across all those with responsibility is critical.”

There is still a culture of ‘they’ll be grand’ which really needs to change and that is the responsibility of all of us involved in sport on the pitch and on the sidelines.

There have been too many instances where damage that could have been averted was not because people got caught up in the heat of the game.  It only takes one person to recognise the impact and stand firm.

At a GAA match involving my local club only last weekend, a player in a Minor football match was knocked out in the first minute of the game.  Action was taken promptly by the referee, coaches and parents and in this instance, an ambulance was called and the player was taken to hospital for observation.  The game was put back and he will not be ready for the rearranged fixture but just how important is that really in terms of his long-term health?

How you answer that question will determine how much we have progressed in terms of culture, recognition and awareness of the risks involved.

Tomorrow’s conference at Croke Park is backed by UPMC, Bon Secours Medical and the GAA and will be attended by doctors, coaches and officials from Gaelic games and other sports from around the country.

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