Local sporting heroes have come together to launch a new online concussion resource for Northern Ireland.
The ConcussionNI.net website is aimed at guiding users through the recognition and management of concussion, through to the gradual and safe return to work, study and sport.
It was launched at the Titanic Building Belfast and attended by Tyrone GAA All-Star Sean Cavanagh, Ireland Hockey World Cup squad member Shirley McCay and former Ulster and Ireland Rugby player Andrew Trimble. They were joined by Commonwealth Games boxing silver medallist Brendan Irvine, Ulster Rugby squad member Marty Moore, Ireland Cricketer Stuart Thompson and representatives from the local sport, education and medical community.
ConcussionNI.net was developed by sports medicine practitioners from Sport Northern Ireland’s Sports Institute, in conjunction with the Department for Communities and in partnership with stakeholders from the sport, education and health sectors.
The new website incorporates up-to-date international medical guidance, the Berlin Consensus statement on concussion in sport, which highlights the importance of rehabilitating the brain through cognitive rest alongside physical rest. It includes evidence-based information for users on identifying potential symptoms of concussion, and guidance for sports on safe return to play.
Among those welcoming today’s launch was Peter Robinson, concussion campaigner and father of Benjamin Robinson, the Carrickfergus teenager who tragically died in 2011 following concussive injuries sustained during a school rugby match. Discussing the resource, Mr Robinson stated:
“It’s great to see Northern Ireland continuing in its efforts to educate and raise awareness around concussion in sport. It only takes one person to recognise the signs and symptoms of concussion and prevent them playing on. This resource will help educate and guide those who require information on the recognition of the injury and help guide them through the process to a safe return to normal life and playing.
“As a family we understand the importance of this message and hope it goes a long in preventing any further tragedies. Concussions will happen in sport but this resource will help prevent the mismanagement of the injury which is the greatest danger.”
Hockey World Cup silver medallist Shirley McCay also gave her backing to the new resource, adding:
“As an athlete, it’s really important to me that we do all we can to encourage people here to take up sport and enjoy all the benefits that come from an active lifestyle. That said, I know from my own experience that injuries like concussion do sometimes occur, and when it happens it’s important that everyone involved, from coaches and officials to parents and teachers, have the information to recognise and manage it.
“This new resource is all about building understanding of what concussion is and what to do when it occurs, and ultimately helping people return to sport safely. Whether you’re involved at grassroots or high performance level, I would urge everyone to play their part in tackling this issue and ensuring a safer environment for people in Northern Ireland to take part in sport.”
Dr Kerry Kirk from Sport Northern Ireland’s Sports Institute added:
“The issue of sports concussion has really grown in prominence over recent years, not just in Northern Ireland but globally. Addressing it is something which requires a collective effort from all of these involved and affected by concussion, from people working at all levels of sport to those in education and health. That’s why Sport NI, in developing the ConcussionNI website, has been engaging with a range of stakeholders and partners.
“The overriding message we want to put out is that, where a suspected concussion has occurred, it’s important to not play on, but to ensure that the injury is properly diagnosed by an appropriately qualified person and safely managed. Through this new website, we want to provide users with the advice and information to help them do this. This resource is a first step, with new research continuing to be publishe, and we look forward to continuing to engage with all of our partners as we take this work forward.”
Welcoming the launch, Kathryn Hill, Director of Active Communities at the Department for Communities, said:
“The Department is delighted to have been a partner in the development of this innovative website and its associated mobile apps. This is a significant development in the recognition and management of concussion across the wide range of physical activity and sport. It is the fulfilment of a commitment made previously by the Department when the ‘Recognise and Remove’ initiative was launched in 2014, to produce additional guidance and promote best practice in a manner accessible by all those who have a responsibility in the health, safety and recovery of our sports participants.
The excellent development work by our colleagues at the Sports Institute, has resulted in a resource that is ground breaking and will drive a sea-change in attitudes towards the management of concussion. I believe the new website will prove to be an invaluable tool to all who use it, referees, GPs, coaches and parents alike and I congratulate all those involved in its production.”
The new resource can be accessed at www.concussionni.net – an accompanying app for Android devices can be downloaded via the Google Play Store, with an app for Apple devices due to be launched in the coming weeks.
Pictured above: Launching ConcussionNI, a new online concussion management resource for local sport (l-r): Commonwealth Games boxing silver medallist Brendan Irvine, Ulster Rugby player Marty Moore, Robert Heyburn from the Department for Communities, Sport NI Sports Physician Dr Alan Rankin, Tyrone GAA All-Star Sean Cavanagh, Ireland Hockey World Cup silver medallist Shirley McCay, former Ulster and Ireland Rugby star Andrew Trimble, Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown, Cricket Ireland squad member Stuart Thompson, Sport NI Head Physiotherapist Dr Kerry Kirk and Shane Johnson from the Belfast Giants.