Players fail to seek medical advice after concussion


MORE THAN 40 per cent of young Irish rugby players who suffered concussion during the last playing season did not attend for medical assessment afterwards, according to a new study.

The research found that although most players believe concussion can be a serious medical problem, only 56 per cent of those with a concussive episode sought a medical examination.

The study, aimed at gauging knowledge and attitudes towards concussion among players under 20 years of age, was conducted in Dublin rugby clubs.

There was a 95 per cent response rate, with some 133 players filling out questionnaires. Of these, 64 reported sustaining at least one concussion and 33 of these – more than half – continued to play rugby while knowing they were concussed.

The average playing experience among those surveyed was 10 years.

Dr Joe Baker, a specialist registrar in orthopaedic surgery at Cork University Hospital who was involved in the research, said he wouldn’t advise anyone to play on if they were concussed.

Noting that about half the group said they would report concussion to their coach, he said it was important coaches knew what to do. “The coach needs to know how to access the appropriate medical services for the player,” he said.

The research did not look at the impact on the players of continuing to play after concussion, but medical experts say this can be dangerous.

Prof Mike Ferrara from the University of Georgia in the US, who has conducted extensive research into sports-related concussion, told a meeting in Dublin this year that nobody should return to play the same day following concussion unless cleared by a doctor.

He said there was much more to be learned about the long-term effects of concussion but some research, particularly among American football players, had suggested repeated concussion could be linked to depression and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

The research was presented at the annual scientific conference of the faculty of sports and exercise medicine at the RCSI and RCPI on Friday.