Surgeon: GAA injuries like those of car crash victims

One of Donegal’s top surgeons has said injuries sustained in high-impact collisions on the GAA field are similar to those sustained in a road traffic accident.

Dr Kevin Moran, Donegal’s team doctor, said that inter-county footballers are getting bigger and stronger and, as a result, the GAA is now seeing collision injuries that you would associate with rugby.

The consultant surgeon is concussion lead on the GAA’s Medical, Scientific and Welfare (MSW) committee.

Dr Moran noted that 95% of the cases of concussion and other serious injury on the sports field occur when there isn’t a doctor present.

Dr Moran said that it was also necessary to be aware that other collision injuries, if undetected, can have equally catastrophic results — like chest and abdominal injuries.

He cited injuries picked up by two marquee Donegal players — All-Ireland winning captain Michael Murphy and full back Neil McGee — in the recent past.

Paul Durcan collided with Neil McGee in mid-air just before half-time during the All- Ireland quarter-final against Mayo in 2015.

Dr Moran examined Neil in the dressing room at half-time. He had extensive bruising to the rib cage and chest wall and was in significant pain, but as his chest was clear and he was adamant that he wanted to return to play, he agreed to his request.

“I must say at this point that Neil is one of the hardest men in football, both physically and psychologically, and he has an incredible pain barrier — but as soon as he sprinted for the first ball he became breathless and that concerned me as I couldn’t exclude a collapsed lung so I took him off immediately,” he said.

During last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin in Croke Park, team captain, Michael Murphy, suffered an impact to his chest wall and left flank.

“When I examined him my concern was that he had sustained an injury to an abdominal organ, as his abdominal muscles were in spasm.

“I was afforded a significant amount of time to examine him because everyone thought that I was assessing Michael for concussion.

My main concern, though, was that he had either a kidney or spleen injury because such injuries cause similar muscle spasm making assessment difficulty, even for me as a surgeon who has operated on a number of such injuries over the past 25 years, not infrequently unfortunately, because of the road carnage in Donegal.

“Eventually, I was happy that Michael was okay and that there was no deep cavity injury to his chest,” Dr Moran told the Donegal News.

He stressed that the GAA is very proactive and, at all times, is only interested in the welfare of the player.


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