Our amateur sport stars still at risk as concussion rules 'are being ignored'
Rules making it compulsory for sports people who suffer concussion to be removed from play are still being broken, doctors have warned.
Dr Eoin Kelly, specialist registrar in emergency medicine at St James's Hospital in Dublin, said the following of safety protocols was "variable" at amateur sport level.
Dr Kelly is a member of the concussion research interest group (Crig) who will hold a conference on concussion in Trinity College Dublin today on the eve of Ireland taking on France in the Six Nations rugby clash at the Aviva Stadium.
The group hopes to make progress in finding out what causes concussion and also produce the first national Irish guidelines on concussion.
Dr Kelly said people who suffered concussion were not typically admitted to hospital and there were no figures on how many suffered these injuries.
"There would be many more concussive injuries compared to significant brain injuries.
"There are people who have a head injury and ongoing symptoms but nothing shows up in CT scans," he said.
"They get a bang in the head, complain of headaches, dizziness and nausea, poor sleep and concentration. They tend to describe fogginess in their head or balance problems. They may find they are easily upset with nothing showing up on investigation."
They may have to rely on rehabilitation such as occupational therapy to cope with symptoms or take medications to help with problems such as migraine.
Dr Kelly said there were very few solid theories about the cause of concussion.
As part of its research, the group is working with a senior rugby team, carrying out immediate post-match scanning.
This includes scans on players who were injured and those who were not, to allow for comparisons.
"Awareness of concussion and its immediate and delayed effects is growing amongst not only medical, educational and sporting organisations but also the general public," Dr Colin Doherty, consultant neurologist at St James's Hospital, said.
"But there is an urgent need to have a coherent set of national guidelines for recognition and management of mild traumatic brain injury that can reach across organisational boundaries and underpin a proper evidence-based approach to treatment."
Assistant Professor in Genetics at Trinity Dr Matthew Campbell said "getting a handle on the molecular networks at play during and after repetitive trauma to the brain is fundamental in progressing our knowledge in this area".
Today's discussion will include a sporting panel including former Irish international rugby players Keith Wood and Fergus Slattery, as well as the Tipperary hurler Seamus Callanan. The event will be hosted by Eoin McDevitt of 'Second Captains'.