'It's a cultural thing for players to say 'I'm grand' - this must change'
People need to be educated on the dangers of concussion and the symptoms of the injury, it has been warned.
Kieran Loughran, CEO of brain injury association Headway, said there was a lack of understanding of the dangers of serious head injury in sport.
"It's evident that there is still a huge lack of awareness amongst the general public when it comes to concussion.
"One in every two people surveyed as part of our research admits they would not recognise the signs of concussion - this needs to be addressed," he said.
Mr Loughran added that the full effects may not be noticeable at first.
"In the first few minutes, the player might be slightly confused or appear to be a little dazed but an hour later they might not recall coming to the game.
"A decision to come off the pitch in a game due to suspected concussion should never, ever be left up to a player who may not be thinking right," he said.
"It's a cultural thing in Ireland to say, 'I'm grand' and that must be changed. People should not consider 'the magic sponge' to be a sufficient response," he said.
A player should be supervised for at least an hour after a suspected concussion.
"Any worsening of symptoms should result in a visit to a GP or hospital.
"We are asking that schools and clubs nationwide become concussion aware and put proper measures in place to deal with concussion.
"Clubs and schools can go to concussionaware.ie, get informed and download their concussion aware poster to signal to parents that they support this vital initiative.
"We're particularly concerned about the lack of knowledge about Second Impact Syndrome, only one in 10 people knew what this is," he said.
Second Impact Syndrome occurs as a result of a second concussion received after an initial concussion has not been given time to heal. The consequences could be catastrophic and fatal, he said.
Learn symptoms to keep your children safe
Parents are advised to makes themselves aware of the symptoms of concussion to safeguard their children who play sport.
Headway's Concussion-aware campaign explains:
If your child has sustained a head injury/concussion, do the following:
- Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of concussion.
- Have your child evaluated by a GP. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself. Their brains are still developing. If it's not diagnosed and managed correctly, they could take a lot longer to get better or have a brain injury that never heals, They could be out of sports for a very long time, or - though rare - if they get another concussion before they've healed, the results could be fatal.
- Monitor your child's symptoms at home and report any new or worsening symptoms to your GP as well as school/club if relevant.
- Don't let your child back out on the day of the injury. Wait until the GP says they are symptom-free and it's OK to return to play.
- Help protect your child's brain. If he or she has been concussed, they will need complete cognitive rest to heal from a concussion. That means limiting television, computer screens, video games, text messaging, reading, loud music/noises and homework while recovering.
- Parents should not, however, become too anxious either. With early diagnosis and proper care, symptoms can be resolved quickly in most cases.