UPMC has joined with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Gaelic Players Association (GPA) to introduce a pilot programme on concussion baseline testing – with the goal of rapidly diagnosing and treating concussions in players.
The initiative is underway and will run to the end of the 2022 championships. It will cover football, hurling and camogie. Both men and women players will participate equally across all codes, including inter-county teams from across the country.
“UPMC is changing how health care is delivered in Ireland, and we are excited to use our extensive concussion treatment and testing experience to assist players and our GAA and GPA partners,” said David Beirne, managing director of UPMC in Ireland and senior vice president of UPMC International.
“UPMC is proud to be the official health care partner of the GAA and GPA. As an organisation that is recognised globally as a leader in concussion, sports medicine and rehabilitation, we are delighted to support and help deliver this initiative.”
Baseline concussion testing will be provided to all inter-county players from the counties participating in the pilot, and these players will also be covered for concussion physician specialist costs.
This will be delivered using the ImPACT® Concussion Testing model, an exclusive, state-of-the-art, software-based neurocognitive assessment tool co-developed by UPMC concussion specialists.
ImPACT®, which stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment & Cognitive Testing, is an objective tool to support trained clinicians in making return-to-activity decisions following concussions.
Taking decision making out of the more subjective hands of players and coaches can only be a good thing and UPMC has deep experience in the field being partners of the Pittsburgh Steelers in American Football and other sporting franchises across the United States.
“Earlier this year the Association introduced the provision for a concussion substitute into Gaelic games,” said GAA President Larry McCarthy.
“It was a move which illustrates our ongoing commitment to keeping awareness and education around concussion prominent for players and coaches.”
“Player welfare is a central pillar to the work of the GPA and the subject of concussion has seen significant steps made in our games in recent years,” added GPA Interim CEO Ciaran Barr.
“However, there is more to do, and we’re delighted to join with the GAA and UPMC for this pilot scheme and we look forward to seeing the data which can help inform future policy. It is also great to see this pilot being implemented across both male and female squads.”
This announcement builds on UPMC’s existing work with the GAA, which focuses on raising concussion awareness in Ireland through national concussion symposiums held in Croke Park, and the UPMC Concussion Network, a first-of-its-kind coalition of health care organisations that aims to standardise concussion testing and treatment throughout the country and to shape the national conversation about this complex but treatable injury.
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