Thursday, July 04, 2019

Butlerstown GAA took part in UPMC Whitfield Concussion Network programme with Derek O’Neill, lead Physiotherapist for Concussion Network. Photo: Joe Evans

BUTLERSTOWN GAA’s emphasis on player welfare was illustrated in recent weeks as staff from UPMC Whitfield provided club members with a concussion educational session as well as conducting baseline testing on players.

The UPMC Concussion Network, centrally managed at UPMC Whitfield, has created the first countrywide network of healthcare providers for the diagnosis and treatment of concussion in people of all ages, using exclusive assessment tools evaluating multiple aspects of an individual’s neurocognitive state.

Vincent Codd of Butlerstown GAA told the Waterford News & Star that the event came about after mentors from the club’s juvenile, adult and camogie sections attended a concussion awareness course.

“The players really bought into it and wanted to get it done. They know the benefits of it and the fact that they’re involved in a contact sport means they are at a greater risk than general members of the public. I spoke to the Intermediate team mentors and they were delighted. We’re looking after the player’s welfare. It’s really important that the mentors of the kids’ teams have an improved understanding of concussion now as well.”

Derek O’Neill, lead physiotherapist with the UPMC Concussion Network, said they were keen to offer education talks and baseline tests to the grassroots of sports in Ireland and credited Butlerstown GAA for having the initiative to have their players tested.

“We had great numbers show up and lots of questions were asked, not only from the players but also the selectors and parents. It was clear to see that player welfare is a top priority at the club.

“Having this data increases a clinician’s confidence in diagnosis and when deciding if it’s safe to return to play… This baseline diagnosis will protect their welfare by ensuing the right decision are being made at each stage of their rehabilitation.”

In the event of a suspected concussion, the patient can repeat the test, and his or her post-injury data is compared to baseline test data to help determine the severity and effects of the injury, in addition to the course of treatment and rehabilitation.

Education and awareness were two of the most vital factors in reducing the risk of concussion in the coming years, Derek added, with the message of “if in doubt, sit it out” being emphasised on mentors.

“Talking to the manager and players about the signs and symptoms of concussion was my top priority at Butlerstown GAA Club. We see professional sporting teams get it wrong, having players either play on or go back on after a suspected concussion has to stop… It really is not worth the risk and welfare of the player.

“I think they managers and players are more informed after the event, they now know what to do if a player is suspected of having a concussion and have a specialised pathway if they need us through the UPMC Concussion Network.”

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