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Concussion dangers can't be walked off

Wednesday, 12th June, 2019 5:09pm

The under-reporting of concussion injuries in sport could potentially be a massive problem in Ireland.

That’s according to sports trauma expert Dr Ann McKenna who says that the amount of people seeking treatment for concussion in Ireland is worryingly low.

“International experience is that the number of people with concussion is, on average, 1 in 165. Yet in Ireland, only 1 in 2,000 people attend for treatment. That, for me, is the biggest cause of concern.

“It would appear that because of pressure on young people and athletes to continue playing, there is a tendency not to present for treatment if they feel they have concussion,” Dr McKenna said.

Dr McKenna was one of the speakers at Tuesday night’s Bon Secours Health System GP event which focused on dealing with pitch-side trauma.

The Cork consultant surgeon said that a culture of safety is now starting to emerge but that rugby, football, American football and GAA are the top four offenders when it comes to concussion in sport.

She said: “Very few episodes of concussion are actually malicious. A lot of them are purely accidental, which I do think is an improvement. But if you compare all sports, a survey of referees and umpires shows that the highest rates of assaults was in GAA, football and hurling. I think that speaks to the lack of discipline I observe in GAA that isn’t there in rugby, for example.”

According to Dr McKenna, the key to recovering from concussion is taking time off.

“Yes, most people recover from concussion but they must rest and not return until they are symptom free.”

“I’m not saying people with concussion are in trouble, I’m saying people with concussion need to be sensible and not to return until all symptoms are gone,” she concluded.

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