Objectives: To determine the self-reported, seasonal rates of concussion and the reporting practices among Irish rugby union players.
Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Setting: The study was conducted at the training grounds of four professional Irish rugby union clubs.
Participants: One hundred seventy-two players (24.97 ± 4.11 years of age, 13.49 ± 5.79 years playing experience) gave consent to participate.
Main outcome measures: Number of concussions reported during the 2010-2011 season, reasons for not reporting, and positions of concussed players.
Results: Forty-five percent of players reported at least one concussion during the 2010-2011 season, but only 46.6% of these presented to medical staff. The reasons for not reporting their concussions included, not thinking the injury was serious enough, and not wanting to be removed from the game. The relative proportion of concussions was higher for backs than forwards; however, the severity of injury was greater for forwards. Scrum-halves (12.0%) and flankers (10.9%) accounted for the majority of concussions reported.
Conclusions: The self-reported rate of concussion in elite rugby union players in Ireland is higher than reported in other countries or other sports. Many concussions remain unreported and, therefore, unmanaged. However, recent changes in concussion management guidelines by the International Rugby Board may impact future reporting practices of players.
Keywords: Concussion reporting rates; Epidemiology; Head injury; Ireland; Rugby union.
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