The IRFU’s Head of Medical Services, Dr. Rod McLoughlin, presented the work being done on concussion education in rugby to the Joint Committee on Health and Children today at Government buildings and made a number of recommendations to advance concussion management in sport.
Concussion education and management sits at the very top of the IRFU’s player welfare strategy aimed at educating, supporting and protecting players at all levels of the game.
Rugby operates a zero-tolerance stance towards playing with concussion and the message to all is: Stop – Inform – Rest – Return. Any player with clear or suspected concussion should be removed from the field of play and must not return that day.
Dr. Rod McLoughlin made a number of recommendations during his submission to the Committee including calling for:
– The development and distribution of concussion education material through the schools system
– The development of ‘return to learn’ guidelines for schools, similar to the return to sport guidelines and education of teachers and parents on the importance of this part of management
– Concussion education and training of all medical personnel who are involved in managing this issue. This includes sports doctors, GPs, emergency medicine doctors and physiotherapists in sport
– Improved access to specialist care, e.g. neurologists and the establishment of concussion management clinics
– A consensus on minimum return to play timelines across all sports nationally
Dr. McLoughlin commented: “The IRFU welcomed this opportunity to speak to the Committee members on the topic of concussion. The IRFU’s strategic vision on concussion is that all players, coaches, referees and medical personnel involved in rugby union in Ireland understand the importance of concussion, how to recognise concussion and manage it, therefore enhancing player welfare.
“The Union is providing leadership to change the culture within rugby. The culture that we aspire to is one in which concussion is considered a serious injury, actively monitored for, recognised and proactively managed with player safety the ultimate consideration.
“We are working to achieve this vision and culture change by concussion education, regulation, prevention, management and research.”
The IRFU’s Concussion information can be viewed at: www.irishrugby.ie/playingthegame/medical.php.