Concussion fears prompt parents to stop their children taking up sports
One in four Irish parents whose children play sport has a near-constant worry their youngster will suffer concussion.
This fear has led one in five parents to even consider stopping their child playing sport entirely, according to a new poll.
A world expert on sports related injuries, Dr Micky Collins of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, said the findings showed the pendulum had swung too far when it came to attitudes about concussion.
The online poll was commissioned by the UPMC Concussion Network in Ireland, which trains doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition.
Dr Collins, who is its clinical director, said: "As a clinician who has successfully treated thousands of patients, I believe that the pendulum has swung too far when it comes to our attitudes about concussion.
"The reality is that we have made tremendous progress in the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of this injury."
The poll, carried out by Empathy Research, also revealed that six in 10 adults in Ireland say they have received no education about the signs, symptoms and management of concussion.
He added: "As clinicians and scientists, we must do a better job of sharing accurate information. Even many clinicians fail to understand the nuances of this injury and the great strides that we've made in treating and managing it."
"It wasn't long ago that concussion was viewed by many as a minor and fleeting problem. Athletes young and old were once encouraged to 'shake it off' or to retreat for a while to a darkened room.
"In contrast, a wave of misinformation and hysteria in recent years has fuelled exaggerated fears that concussion will lead inevitably to long-term brain damage and disability.
"Hysteria about the long-term impact of concussions, especially as it relates to kids and sports, is not backed by solid, prospective research."
Other findings in the poll showed almost all adults agree that if left untreated, concussion could have long-term health implications.
Almost half believe Irish coaches are adequately educated to manage concussion injuries correctly.
Dr Collins warned that "immediacy of treatment is very important.
"We have strong data showing that if a child plays for just 15 minutes beyond the point of original symptoms, the recovery time doubles.
"We know that kids who play through symptoms - like dizziness, nausea, headaches and sensitivity to light - don't have good outcomes."
But he added that with improved awareness, "the bottom line is that concussion is a treatable illness".