Concussion guidelines needed, says Ger Ryan
GAA player welfare chief Ger Ryan says one of the big challenges facing the association is spreading clear guidelines on concussion beyond inter-county level and out to the 400,000 club players worldwide.
Ryan was speaking at the fifth annual Sports Medicine Conference hosted by the Sports Surgery Clinic at its Santry base on Saturday.
With a number of renowned medical experts in attendance from across the globe, the focus was on the subject of “Concussion: Diagnosis and Rehabilitation”.
The Co Tipperary native was there to deliver the GAA’s Concussion Position Statement. As chairman of the association’s Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee, he feels high-profile on-field incidents, as well as a greater media interest, has raised awareness of concussion.
“There is certainly greater awareness and greater focus on it. I suppose that is being driven by greater media interest. The GAA itself has continued to update its guidelines, and obviously that has given a focus,” Ryan said.
“Of course there has been a number of high-profile concussion incidents. That drove interest as well,” he said.
Ryan, who also assumed his position as Munster GAA PRO last year, has been chairman of this committee since 2012, and in addition to getting fully-qualified medical practitioners on board, they have also reached out to the playing community.
“We have a number of different expertise areas [on the committee]. We’ve medical doctors, we’ve chartered physiotherapists. We’ve ex-players, we’ve ex-managers.
“We have administrators, we have researchers. It’s quite a broadly-based committee that has a primary focus on medical expertise in related areas, but also it’s the player welfare committee.
“So, it’s very much focused on what makes sense for players, with a particular emphasis on injury prevention and looking after the overall welfare of the playing community in the widest sense.
“It’s not just the inter-county player, who is very well looked after both in terms of within their counties and also then they’re very well represented by the GPA, who are also represented on our committee. Dessie Farrell, who is the CEO of the GPA, also sits on our committee,” he said.
Ryan had worked on the backroom team of the Tipperary senior hurlers for 15 years, dealing primarily in the areas of player welfare and team logistics. He said concussion was a very minor issue during his time with the Premier County, but nevertheless feels that it is important to establish clear guidelines throughout the association, and not just at inter-county level.
“That’s not just at inter-county level. That’s one of the big challenges, trying to spread this through the association that has over 400,000 players worldwide.
“One of the key challenges for us is that a lot of those games are played without the presence of medical personnel.
“We need to ensure that where there is a suspicion of concussion, that the player is removed from play, and that the appropriate treatment is then applied thereafter,” he said.