Hurling player needed surgery after opponent altered helmet
GAA coaches and referees have been called on to enforce rules preventing hurling helmets being altered after a player ended up needing medical treatment.
The 24-year-old club hurler required medical attention after a metal bar on an opponent’s helmet pierced his hand.
The man was treated at Tullamore Hospital, according to doctors who highlighted the case in the Irish Medical Journal.
Dr Tony Farrell, Dr Ciaran McDonald and Dr Eoin Sheehan from the hospital’s orthopaedic department called for heightened awareness around the dangers of modifying hurling helmets.
They said as footwear studs are checked prior to rugby or soccer and gloves inspected in combat sports so also should hurling helmets.
In this case the player’s hand struck the opponent’s helmet while attempting to catch the ball.
The helmet had been changed, leaving a sharp piece of metal in place of a single bar.
The metal went through the tip of the man’s ring finger and down into his little finger.
The player did not suffer nerve damage and was brought to surgery, where the faceguard was safely removed. The man was discharged after 24 hours and returned to sport just four weeks later.
The doctors said while the GAA and the National Safety Authority of Ireland (NSAI) forbid altering helmets, 31pc of hurling helmets have been modified in some way.
They say this shows the need for more education on the dangers of altered helmets.
“Ultimately, the rules of helmet modification will need to be enforced by coaches and referees at a local level. As footwear studs are checked prior to rugby or soccer and gloves inspected in combat sports the inspection of safety equipment should become a mandatory pre-match checklist for any referee or match officials. This study’s intention is to highlight the dangers of helmet modification and to encourage safety changes as recommended.
“Although penetrating injuries from a helmet in hurling are a rare injury they occur as a direct result of helmet modification. We feel by highlighting the dangers of this practice we can raise awareness among players and officials and to effect a change in this modification practice.”