National Concussion Strategy needed to change culture in Irish sport – Richmond

-   Senator Neale Richmond

Ireland needs a National Concussion Strategy to ingrain the culture of ‘if in doubt sit them out’ in Irish sports, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator and General Election candidate for Dublin Rathdown, Neale Richmond, said:

“We have seen Irish sporting organisations including the GAA and the IRFU make great strides in tackling the problem of concussion in sports recently but now is the time to introduce a national strategy to face the issue head-on.

“Coaches and players need to be aware of the dangers of playing with a suspected concussion and the appropriate actions to take if there is an incident or if a player presents with some of the symptoms such as dizziness or nausea.

“Greater awareness about the issue of second impact concussion – where a second trauma occurs before there is time to recover from the first – is also crucial.

“This is especially important for our new generation of athletes. Children should be as aware of the dangers of concussion as they are of the perils of crossing the street without looking both ways.

“Education is key here and a national strategy would allow for a cohesive approach to ensure that children are taught in school about how to spot a concussion and, importantly, taught that it is absolutely OK to sit out a game if they need to.

“This should be key for all sports and not just contact sports or those who have made high profile strides. The short- and long-term impacts of concussion range from the unpleasant to the deadly; they can happen in any sport at any level. Having been carried off the pitch, concussed, three times in three very low level rugby matches, I can vouch for the need for widespread understanding.

“While a national strategy needs a coordinated response across government, including from the Department of Education and the Department of Health, the Department of Sport should take the lead on developing a new strategy. It makes sense as the department is best placed to work closely with sporting bodies across the country and ensure that the final strategy is workable and responsive to the situation on the ground.

“Ireland is a sporting nation – we will see how true this is again this weekend when Ireland take on Italy in the Aviva and the two All Ireland Football semi-finals take place in Croke Park.

“The value our sports clubs play in our communities should never be taken for granted. A National Concussion Strategy is a way to protect our players and support our clubs,” he concluded.

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