Irish rugby team doctor Éanna Falvey says understanding in the area of concussion is "evolving" and believes huge progress has been made in the last three years.
Dr Falvey was particularly busy during the November test against Australia when Rob Kearney, Gordon D’Arcy, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton all received knocks.
The Racing Metro man hasn’t played since that test after Top 14 officials recommended a 12-week break following a third international concussion in 2014. Speaking on Saturday at a Royal College of Surgeons seminar, Dr Falvey explained the challenges that medical officials face.
“One of the biggest problems standing on the sideline is that there are incidents you miss,” he explained.
“If you’re looking after one player and something happens to another and you don’t see it you’re immediately at a disadvantage.
“There could be 3 million people watching a replay at home of an incident that you haven’t seen.
“So we have another doctor and physio watching a video and they can radio me and tell me what the mechanism (of injury) was.”
Dr Falvey went on to explain how critical timing is at the diagnosis phase.
“It’s an evolving area. What we know and how we manage concussion is different than what it was three years ago.
“Out on the pitch, three seconds makes a difference to what’s going to happen because you could see a guy and he may be unwell and you decide he has to come off.
“But he can be perfect in three seconds and if you arrive three seconds later you may not be aware that he was actually hurt.
“So it’s very important that you’re getting all the information you can possibly get.”
There has been a lot of discussion about the increased physical size of rugby players, but Dr Falvey pointed out that the corollary is they have also developed greater resistance to the more forceful hits they receive.
But he stressed that uniformity of approach in the area of head injuries is crucial and insisted that no chances should be taken if a player is known to have suffered a blow.
“I’d be very worried that we don’t manage the problem of concussion now,” he added. “It’s in our interest to put our time and effort into preventing head injuries now. People are going to do contact sports.
“We all want to do it. I wanted to do it, it’s how we’re made up. But it’s important everyone is aware, from the players to the coaches, the doctors and medical staff, that you don’t want to be taking any chances.”
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