Kevin Doyle praised for concussion comments

A group that provides services for people with brain injuries has commended retired Irish footballer Kevin Doyle for raising awareness of concussions.

Last week, Wexford-born Doyle said he was hanging up his boots following medical advice after he was suffering concussions and headache.

Donnchadh Whelan, national services manager at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, highlighted the case of Jeff Astle, who died aged 59 as a result of a degenerative brain disease which an English coroner found was as a result of his repeated heading of a football.

“When Jeff Astle was playing there was no awareness of the possible outcomes of suffering multiple concussions,” Mr Whelan said.

“Given all we know now, there should be no Jeff Astles in this era and we commend Kevin Doyle for being so forthcoming in the reasons behind his retirement. We wish him well and hope his honesty will help players with similar issues come forward and seek support,” Mr Whelan said.

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane said, on Monday, injuries are a part of sport, and while Mr Whelan agreed, he said concussion “is not an ordinary injury”.

“Roy Keane stated that injury is an occupational hazard for professional athletes and he is right. However athletes are not gladiators sent out to be injured for our enjoyment. And concussion is not an ordinary injury.

“If an athlete were to receive one concussion and continue to play on, they are literally putting their lives at risk should they receive another one. This is known as Second Concussion Syndrome and is a catastrophic and fatal injury. This is not an occupational hazard. It is completely avoidable.

“Indeed, studies are increasingly showing that cumulative concussions, even following recovered concussions, can cause long-term degenerative neurological problems,” said Mr Whelan.

“For some athletes, Repetitive Brain Injury Syndrome can be an issue with symptoms such as persistent headaches, increased susceptibility to a concussion and other cognitive problems.

“Roy’s slightly blasé comments about risk appear to be made out of a genuine misunderstanding of what concussion is and the devastating impact it can have. We would urge all sporting and representative bodies to put their Concussion Guidelines front and centre on their main webpage for ease of access to the general public and their members.”

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