Hurlers are being warned of the dangers of modifying their helmets after one player sustained a horrific hand injury from a metal bar in a modified face guard.
In the February edition of the 'Irish Medical Journal', medics called for the rules around hurling helmet modification to be enforced by coaches and referees after describing how a metal bar entered an opponent's ring finger and exited the little finger on his left hand.
The medics from the orthopaedic department at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore reported how, while attempting to catch a sliotar during a club league match, the hurler's left hand struck the helmet of an opposing player.
Due to the modifications of the helmet, where a single removed bar left a sharp remnant in its place, the patient sustained a penetrating soft tissue injury to the ring and little finger of his dominant hand.
The medics said the patient was received in the emergency department where the helmet was removed, leaving only the metal bar.
The hurler had no nerve damage to his fingers and he was transferred to theatre.
The medics reported that surgical exploration and removal of the metal bar entailed open exploration of possible damaged structures of the little finger.
Nail-bed repair on the ring finger was performed.
After routine post-operative elevation and antibiotic protocols were instituted, the hurler was discharged after 24 hours and he returned to sports four weeks after the injury once his wounds had healed.
The medics said the introduction of mandatory helmet-wearing across all age gradients by the GAA in 2010 has resulted in significantly fewer injuries attending emergency departments.