Summary principles of GAA Concussion Management Guidelines
• Concussion is a brain injury that needs to be taken seriously to protect the short and long-term health and welfare of all players.
• If there are any signs leading to the suspicion of concussion, a player should be removed immediately from the field of play pending a full medical assessment (the impact itself may on occasion be considered an indicator even in the absence of any immediate symptoms). A player suspected of sustaining/having sustained a concussion should not return to play on the same day. Subsequently a satisfactory, supervised return to play protocol must be completed, followed by medical approval, prior to return to play. If In Doubt, Sit Them Out.
• Where a Team Doctor is present, he must advise the person in charge of the team (i.e. Team Manager) in this regard and the player must not be allowed to continue his participation in the game.
• Concussion diagnosis is a clinical judgement – Use of the SCAT 5 can aid the doctor in his/her diagnosis. If a full SCAT 5 assement has been deemed necessary the player should not return to play on the day.
• Concussion is an evolving injury. It is important to monitor the player after the injury for 24-48 hours.
• Adult players suspected of having a concussion, must have adequate rest of at least 24 - 48 hours and then must follow a gradual return to play (GRTP) protocol. Players must receive written medical clearance (from a doctor) and present to the person in charge of the team before returning to full contact training. Adult players should not return to full contact training/matches for at least 1 week from when the injury has first been diagnosed. (The GRTP should take at least 7 days for adult players)
• Players under the age of 18 suspected of having a concussion must rest for a minimum of 48 hours and then must follow a GRTP protocol. Players must receive written medical clearance from a doctor) and present to the person in charge of the team before returning to full contact training. Players under the age of 18 should not return to full contact training/matches for at least 2 weeks from when the injury has first been diagnosed. (It is recommended that the GRTP should take at least 14 days for players under the age of 18.)
• A graduated return to school/education strategy is also necessary. Communication between the doctor, parents and teachers is essential so that a flexible individualised plan alowing incremental progression from daily activities, school activities, return to school part time and return to school full time be implemented. No player should return to competitive sporting activity prior to being cleared to return to school.
• The vast majority of players can be managed locally by a doctor with the necessary skillsets, for example Team Doctor, GP, or Sports Medicine Doctor.
• A minority of players with prolonged symptoms (greater than 4 weeks for under-18s or greater than 10-14 days for adult players, players with recurrent injuries or experiencing educational difficulties) should be referred to an appropriate specialist or multidisciplinary clinic.
• All coaches should be made aware by players and/or parents if a player under their care has received a concussion in another sport/event.
• In children and adolescents, there is a risk of catastrophic injury from second impact syndrome if players are returned to play before they are recovered from concussion.
The full guidelines are available to download by clicking here.
UPMC Concussion Network
In the event players have:
> prolonged symptoms (greater than 4 weeks for under-18s OR greater than 10-14 days for adult players)
> suffered multiple concussions previously
>are experiencing educational/learning difficulties post concussion
players should be referred to an appropriate specialist or multidisciplinary clinic. If the injury occured during a GAA training or practice match, and the other terms of the GAA Injury Benefit fund are met, costs for such consulatations other than related physiotherapy treatment, can be claimed via the Injury Benefit Fun.
The GAA have worked with UPMC over the past number of years, providing education and training to medical professionals involved in the GAA. They now have appointed number of clinical leads operating in Ireland for specialist treatment for those with prolonged symptoms as described above. A GP/Hosptial can refer players by contacting the Network at the details below.