The GAA - the story on injuries

Two out of every three players will get injured at least once a season, a major GAA report has revealed.

Two out of every three players will get injured at least once a season, a major GAA report has revealed.

In it latest update on injuries and related matters, the GAA Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee reveals that injuries to the head are not a major problem.

The Committee released the main findings from the latest report of the GAA’s injury database. The database, now in its seventh year, monitors injury data collected from the senior inter-county playing population. Since 2006, 45 (football) and 32 (hurling) teams have taken part with a total of 2,525 players being monitored.

The main findings were - 2 out of every 3 players on a team will get injured at least once in a season; over a third of players will have more than one injury per season; up to a quarter of injuries will be a recurrence of an old injury; over half of injuries will be during a match whilst over a third are sustained during training; lower limb injuries remain the most prevalent (football - 76.3%, hurling - 69%); 50-60% of injuries occur in the second half of play.

Only a very small number of injuries 2.3% (football) and 2.2% (hurling) have been injuries to the head with less than 1% (0.8% football, 0.5% hurling) being diagnosed as concussion.

John C. Murphy (Director, GAA National Injury Database) and Dr Catherine Blake (Research Co-ordinator) presented the injury data which has been collected under their guidance and acknowledged the work which Ms Edwenia O’Malley (UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy, Population Science) has completed in this regard.

On the topic of concussion, Mr Murphy said that whilst less than 1% of all injuries have been classified as a concussion, the GAA has taken progressive steps by releasing updated guidelines and beginning the process of implementing an educational campaign.

The following injuries were highlighted as being the most common in Gaelic games - thigh (football - 32.7%, hurling - 23.4%); hamstring (football - 23%, hurling - 16.7%); knee (football - 11.2%, hurling - 11.8%); pelvis and groin (football - 9.7%, hurling - 10.4%).

Dr Catherine Blake pointed out that a proactive approach had been taken to addressing lower limb injuries with the development of the GAA 15 version 1, a standardised 15 minute warm-up which can be taken before training and games. She said it was hoped that the GAA 15 would be launched next January and embedded into the GAA’s Coach Education Programmes from October 2014.

Concussion management

The Committee, in conjunction with Ms Ruth Whelan (Physiotherapy Manager, UPMC Beacon Hospital) has updated its guidelines on concussion management based on the consensus statement from the International Conference on Concussion in Sport which was released in March.

It was pointed out that any player suspected of having received a concussion should be removed immediately from play. The importance of managers and coaches taking advice from medical personnel in this regard was also highlighted.

Ms Whelan pointed out that players should never return to play on the same day as having received a suspected concussion and medical clearance should be obtained before a player returns to play. The guidelines were presented at the annual GAA Medical Conference on Saturday.

The Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee will be concentrating on implementing an educational plan in the coming months which will emphasise the key messages of its guidelines to a large number of stakeholders. Reference was made to various educational tools which are currently available on the GAA website and learning portal.

Dessie Farrell, CEO of the Gaelic Players Association and current member of the Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee acknowledged that the GPA’s involvement with the Committee was beneficial for both inter-county and club players.

He welcomed the developments with regard to concussion management, the injury database and the new learning portal and said that the GAA and GPA were eager to continue to address other player welfare issues in a proactive manner.