If a member of a sports team takes a knock to the head they should immediately be removed from live play so their wellbeing can be properly assessed, according to the Irish Rugby Players’ Association (IRUPA).
The organisation made the plea as part of a nationwide concussion awareness campaign, ‘Headucate’ which is being run by the IRUPA and Headway Brain Injury Services and Supports.
“There is a marked shift in the attitude towards concussion in professional rugby. We have come a long way in the past few years in terms of raising awareness of the dangers of concussion and protecting the short and long-term welfare of players,” said Omar Hassanein, CEO of the IRUPA.
“Our players rely on protocols that have been put in place to protect their well- being and are supported by medical expertise pitch-side to ensure that decisions are made in the players’ best interest.”
This level of support, he said, is not necessarily available for the thousands of amateur players around the country.
“The Irish Rugby Football Union has done great work highlighting the issue with their Stop, Inform, Rest, Return campaign. We would just like to reiterate the importance of educational awareness at all levels of our wonderful game,” said Mr Hassanein.
“Therefore we are calling on athletes everywhere no matter what their sport to take any knock to the head seriously. The rick is too high otherwise. So use your head and come off until you can get properly assessed.”
Kieran Loughran, chief executive of Headway, echoed these sentiments and urged affected players to speak up if they think they might have a concussion.
“Tell your coach or team mate and don’t get back in the game until you have been cleared by your doctor,” he said. “After a concussion the brain is more sensitive to damage and is at risk of second impact syndrome, when an athlete takes a second blow before recovering from the first. That causes nerves that monitor blood-flow to the brain to malfunction.”
The organisation is calling on members of the public to show their support for the campaign by tweeting using the hashtags #Headucate and #ConcussionAwareness.
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