ON 9 FEBRUARY, Luke Marshall was helped from the pitch during Ireland’s draw with France. He had concussion but was deemed fit to play the following week against Italy.
He clashed heads with his teammate, Paddy Jackson, in Rome and, once again, was helped from the field. Speaking in May to TheScore.ie, Ireland team doctor Eanna Falvey said, “From Luke’s side, it was very worrying. He’s a real good guy, honest and a good player. He recovered well after the France game.
“In the Italy game it was actually his own player, Paddy Jackson’s head he collided with. He came off but had fully recovered that day.”
Three weeks later and the young inside centre was named to start against Saracens in Ulster’s Heineken Cup quarter final loss. He shipped another concussive blow and was helped off by two Ulster medics. Sense eventually prevailed and he was told to take the summer off. He returned to action in September and has featured for province and country since.
Dr Rod McLoughlin, the IRFU’s head of medical services, believes players in a similar situation to Marshall should, in the future, be given access to expert help.
He told TheScore.ie: “There’s nothing set in stone but it is an area that needs much research. For instance, how we manage repeat concussions. Our guidance would be that if someone gets two concussions within a season, they should seek expert advice and should be managed medically.
Certainly, if they get three concussions in a season — and it depends on the severity of any single concussion and how close they are — they probably should get expert neurology advice.”
Brian O’Driscoll admitted, via Twitter, that the Irish team medics were right to withdraw him from the fray against New Zealand after he was concussed in the second-half. INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Dr McLoughlin was speaking at Monday’s IRFU-backed launch of new concussion guidelines for the amateur game. He stated, “We are adopting a zero tolerance approach to concussion or suspected concussion in an attempt to dispel the myth of a ‘knock to the head’ or a ‘minor concussion’.
“If a player is suspected of being concussed they must be removed from training or the field of play, and not return until proper Graduated Return to Play guidelines have been observed.”
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