Mulvihill allays fears of risk to players

Chairman of the Gaelic Games Doctors’ Association, Dr Danny Mulvihill, has queried the concerns about a rise in serious hip injuries and the danger of kidney failure among Gaelic players.

Mulvihill allays fears of risk to players

The former Kildare football medic has seen three of the county’s footballers — Eamonn Callaghan, Eoin Doyle and Niall Kelly — undergo operations for hip problems.

In Wexford, county chairman Diarmuid Devereux has stated four players in their twenties have had double hip replacements, while other county players such as Cork footballers Patrick Kelly and Damien Cahalane have also recently gone under the knife for hip ailments.

Speaking earlier this week, Tipperary physio John Casey revealed three of that county’s senior hurlers are currently on a hip surgery list. He also suggested the prehab work done by players to avoid cruciate injuries has made hip problems more prevalent.

However, Dr Mulvihill believes there are a couple of mitigating reasons for the suspected increase in the joint injuries.

“We’re hearing about an increase in incidence but I’m not so sure if that’s accurate. Obviously, with increased levels of training and intensity there is the potential for more injuries to surface and most teams are putting in serious amounts of work. Having said that, the hip injuries that people are referring to aren’t necessarily the hip. The groin and abductor etc are all thrown into the one bag.

“With the improvements of imaging techniques, there have been injuries discovered that wouldn’t have been detected before and some of these have been subject to surgical procedures.

“The marked rise has been in the osteitis pubis, a strange type of injury which occurs with stressful training, but particularly in Gaelic football where there is a lot of running, cutting and jumping. The injury can put fellas out for a considerable period of time.”

There has been a slight increase in the number of hip operations in the GAA. In 2012, there were 132 claims for surgery made under the GAA’s player insurance scheme compared to 105 in ’11.

According to the national player injury database, pelvis and groin comprise 9.7% of all football injuries and 10.4% in hurling — fourth behind thigh, hamstring and knee.

Dr Mulvihill has also played down the possibility of players running the risk of suffering kidney damage as a result of excessive training.

DCU professor Niall Moyna this week claimed the constant demands could lead to alarming levels of proteins leaking into the blood stream.

“It is not something I have come across or been concerned about,” remarked Dr Mulvihill. “It hasn’t been an issue within our circles.

“There has been suspicions that creatine use might have long term effects on the kidneys, but Dr Noel McCaffrey, who completed studies into that area, found there was no evidence of it.”

While several inter-county players are known to take supplements, Dr Mulvihill maintains the Irish Sports Council’s stance against their use is correct.

“We live in a world where individuals will do things they’re not advised to but it’s not been a concern and there is no evidence of any organised or individual use of illicit substances.

“We continue to pass on the advice on what can and cannot be taken as set out by the Irish Sports Council. The main problem with supplements is verifying the source or origin.

“It’s easier to come across contaminated supplements than it is to come across those that aren’t because they are often made in garage factories in machines used to produce illicit substances. Unless they’re 100% sure of the source and it is reputable...but we wouldn’t recommend them. Each individual is responsible for what they put into their body.”

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