IRFU supports concussion management tool for amateur and underage players

RugbyBy Sunday World
Donncha O'Callaghan launches ImPACT at the Aviva Stadium
Donncha O'Callaghan launches ImPACT at the Aviva Stadium

The IRFU has given its full backing to a new concussion management tool for amateur and underage players.

Advanced Medical Services (AMS) has announced the launch of ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), a neurocognitive tool for the identification of prolonged concussive symptoms, for amateur and underage sports players.

The computerised neurocognitive evaluation system, already used by elite sportspeople, will be available to schools and clubs across all sports and delivered by the Advanced Medical Services medical team.

The tool provides an accurate assessment system to identify prolonged concussive symptoms and can help to alleviate player or parental concerns in relation to rest and recovery following concussive episodes.

Internationally, ImPACT is considered the most scientifically validated computerised concussion evaluation system and has been tested on more than eight million people. 

ImPACT Concussion Management System involves a 20-minute computerised neurocognitive test which has been scientifically validated to measure neurocognitive abilities related to brain function from which the data is recorded.  The initial test is often referred to as the baseline test.  This test will be available to rugby club and schools players at a cost of €50.

Ed Donovan, CEO of Advanced Medical Services, which also operates the ‘Heartaid’ cardiac programme that has carried out over 51,000 screenings, said:

“In Ireland we are seeing a more pro-active approach to managing and reducing the risks of sports-related concussion.

"The signs and symptoms of concussion are not always evident at the time of the injury and the ImPACT system is designed to bring peace of mind to those who may have suffered a concussive episode and ensure they continue to follow correct rest and recovery protocols.”

The IRFU’s head of Medical Services, Dr Rod McLoughlin said: “The IRFU’s post-concussion return to play protocols are among the most conservative in the world to ensure that amateur players are fully recovered before they return to play or train.

We are pleased to support AMS’ launch of ImPACT testing as an additional service for those amateur players who wish to use it.

While the system will never be used to reduce the minimum mandatory return to play timelines of 21 days for adults and 23 days for players under 20 years of age, it can be useful to those with ongoing symptoms to ensure that the player is not, for example, returning to school, work or the playing field too soon.”

Following a suspected concussion the player will undergo a post-injury test where the data is compared against the baseline test result. 

Medical doctors who are trained and experienced in concussion management will also carry out a clinical assessment of the player and advise on a safe return to play.

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