IRFU’s Head of Medical Services makes recommendations on Concussion Management at Joint Committee Hearing

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The IRFU’s Head of Medical Services Dr Rod McLoughlin presented the work being done on concussion education in rugby to the Joint Committee on Health and Children today at government buildings and made a number of recommendations to advance concussion management in sport.

Concussion education and management sits at the very top of the IRFU’s player welfare strategy aimed at educating, supporting and protecting players at all levels of the game. Rugby operates a zero-tolerance stance towards playing with concussion and the message to all is “Stop – Inform – Rest – Return”. Any player with clear or suspected concussion should be removed from the field of play and must not return that day.

Dr McLoughlin made a number of recommendations during his submission to the Committee including calling for;

The development and distribution of concussion education material through the schools system
The development of ‘return to learn’ guidelines for schools, similar to the return to sport guidelines and education of teachers and parents on the importance of this part of management
Concussion education and training of all medical personnel who are involved in managing this issue. This includes Sports Doctors, GPs, Emergency Medicine Doctors and physiotherapists in sport.
Improved access to specialist care e.g. neurologists and the establishment of concussion management clinics.
A consensus on minimum return to play timelines across all sports nationally.

Dr Rod McLoughlin, commented, “The IRFU welcomed this opportunity to speak to the Committee members on the topic of Concussion. The IRFU’s strategic vision on concussion is that all players, coaches, referees and medical personnel involved in rugby union in Ireland understand the importance of concussion, how to recognise concussion and manage it, therefore enhancing player welfare.

The union is providing leadership to change the culture within rugby. The culture that we aspire to, is one in which – Concussion is considered a serious injury, actively monitored for, recognised and proactively managed with player safety the ultimate consideration.

We are working to achieve this vision and culture change by concussion education. We are working to achieve this vision and culture change by concussion education, regulation, prevention, management and research.

The IRFU’s Concussion information can be viewed at:

About Dr Rod McLoughlin (Short Biography)
MB, DCH, DObs, Dip Pall Med, MRCGP, MSc (Sport Med), FFSEM (Ire & UK).
At present Rod is Head of Medical Services at the IRFU, Director of Medicine at the Institute and Medical Officer Olympic Council of Ireland. He was Medical Officer for the Beijing and London Olympics.

Dr McLoughlin lectures on the Diploma and BSc courses in Sports Management, at University College Dublin and is a member and past chair of the Accreditation Committee of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, RCSI and RCPI. He is an examiner on the Intercollegiate Diploma in Sports and Exercise Medicine in the UK.

In the past he has been Medical Officer to Wicklow Intercounty Gaelic Football and Monkstown Rugby Club. He has been President of the Irish Sports Medicine Association, board member and Treasurer of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, RCSI and RCPI and a member of the GAA medical & scientific committee.

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