Thursday 27 October 2016

GAA move away from 'concussion sub' proposal

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

Ger Ryan: Chairman. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Ger Ryan: Chairman. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

The GAA have shunned the idea of the introduction of a 'concussion sub' on the basis the injury cannot be accurately diagnosed on the spot.

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The Association's Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee (MSWC) made the recommendation in a move that differs from rugby's approach.

In Union, players who are suspected of having picked up a concussion are withdrawn from the action for a short period for a pitch-side assessment (PSA) while a decision is made on whether they can return to the game.

In the case of GAA players, team doctors who have any suspicion a player has been concussed will withdraw them immediately.

"We did consider (a PSA) but we felt that, going back to the fundamental point, because concussion is an evolving injury, and because it requires clinical judgement, that doing that kind of pitch-side or dressing-room assessment wasn't the best approach for our games," said chairman of the MSWC Ger Ryan.

"We are following best practice medical advice here."

Consultant and Donegal team doctor Kevin Moran was among those to sit on the panel and he insists that withdrawing players from a game indefinitely is the best way forward.

"This is how difficult it can be (to diagnose) ... I am nearly sure it was the semi-final against Down in 2013 and (former Donegal footballer) Ryan (Bradley) had two concussions that year," Moran recalled. He felt a bit funny, I was the pitch-side doctor that day and I went in and he seemed a bit dizzy.

"While I was down talking to him, the next thing he jumped up, the ball had been kicked out from the other end, he ran over and he caught the ball and turned around and soloed up the field and kicked the ball over the bar, soloed about 30 yards.

"Then he went down again. I was on the sideline still so he called me back in. I went back in and he said, 'Look, I can see, four, six goalposts, everything is waving all over the place'.

"I said, 'Ryan, you're coming off'. So I was bringing him off and Rory (Gallagher), who is our present manager, asked me very politely where was I going with him? I said, 'He's concussed'. He said, 'How can he be concussed, he's after doing that (kicking a great point)?'

"I actually for a finish-up had to put Ryan in hospital that night because that injury did evolve over the subsequent 24 hours. I think that one case is a good example of how difficult it can be to diagnose."

The committee did explore the possibility of having independent doctors at inter-county games but Moran is satisfied a given team's medical personnel will be strong enough to make the necessary decisions.

Moran went on to argue that having a team doctor diagnose symptoms could help with players attempting to downplay their injuries in a bid to stay on the field.

"That is an argument contrary to having an independent doctor and I'll tell you why - because the diagnosis of concussion really begins with knowing the player, knowing their medical history, knowing if they've been concussed before."

Irish Independent

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