Sunday 19 November 2017

Schools, clubs fail to deal with sports concussion, say parents

Brian O’Driscoll injured during his playing days
Brian O’Driscoll injured during his playing days

Alan O'Keeffe

Seven-in-10 parents believe schools and sports clubs lack adequate procedures and protocols when dealing with concussion with sport.

The grave health dangers that can be caused by not properly treating concussions are to be highlighted in a new campaign.

Headway, the brain injury services and support organisation, has teamed with Ireland's leading GAA, soccer and rugby player unions to launch Concussion Aware.

The aim is to increase awareness of the dangers of not paying sufficient attention to concussion during games.

A survey commissioned by Headway and Laya healthcare revealed that two-thirds of parents now consider the risk of injury influences what sports they allow their children to play.

The new campaign calls on schools and clubs to ensure adequate procedures to deal with concussion and is based on the simple message: "If in doubt, sit it out."

Dr David Connolly, a GP who is the team doctor for Dundalk FC, said even a mild concussion could have serious consequences if a player was not taken out of the game.

The effects of concussion can affect a victim for days or weeks, including dizziness, light-headedness, poor concentration, memory loss, sleep disturbance and fatigue. A concussed player is not necessarily knocked unconscious, and it had happen with just a body blow that causes the head to jolt.

A 'second impact concussion' - an injury suffered before a player has recovered from an initial concussion - can be catastrophic. It can result in rapid swelling of the brain which can lead to death.

Ireland soccer captain Séamus Coleman, Dublin footballer Johnny Cooper, former Leinster rugby player Luke Fitzgerald, and Donegal GAA footballer Kate Keaney are getting behind the campaign.

They issued a joint plea to coaches nationwide and athletes of all ages to ensure they treat concussion properly.

Earlier this year, campaign sponsor Laya healthcare launched its own concussion screening management programme for young rugby players called Head On.

"We are very concerned about the impact of concussion in contact sport and we have invested heavily in screening in this area to make sports safe for all," said Kevin Kent, marketing manager with Laya healthcare.

"All coaches, parents and players need to be educated about concussion, how to identify a concussion and what to do if a concussion happens. Attitudes need to change towards head injury in sport," he said.

Séamus Coleman said: "It comes down to knowing the signs of concussion and looking after your teammates and yourself. If a player is concussed, they may be in a confused state so will be relying on their teammates and coach to recognise that something isn't right. If there is a shadow of a doubt, it's so vital that they come off the field of play and sit it out.

"It might sound dramatic but you really could end up saving a player's sports career, we've all seen some of our heroes having to retire early due to the impact of concussion."

Mark Stafford, CEO of Lifesyle Sports, said special €3 bootlaces were on sale to support the campaign.

Information is available on with campaign highlights on Headway Ireland's Facebook page.

Irish Independent

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