The Repercussions of Concussion: A Call for Reform

AuthorMáiréad Leen
PositionBCL (International), LLM (Candidate), University College Cork
[2017] 16 COLR 87
Máiréad Leen*
As McCrory and others have posited ‘[c]oncussion is a brain injury and is defined as a complex
pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces.’1 There are a
plethora of definitions for concussion available, from the aforementioned one to vaguer and
perhaps misconstrued definitions. For example, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) defines a
concussion as:
[A] brain injury and can be caused by a direct or indirect hit to the player’s head or
body. Concussion typically results in an immediate onset of short lived signs and
symptoms. However, occasionally, the signs and symptoms of concussion may
evolve over a number of minutes or hours.2
This is a less technical interpretation, intended to educate players, coaches, referees and parents.
Unfortunately, there is a misconception that concussions are not serious or that to suffer a
concussion, a player must be ‘knocked out’; this is mainly due to a lack of education.3 In fact,
only 10% of concussions result in unconsciousness.4 "
This article shall deal with the issue of insufficient regulations of concussion in sports law, with
a particular focus on the National Football League (NFL) procedures in comparison to rugby in
this jurisdiction. In Ireland, rugby is a fast growing phenomenon, with 153,080 registered
players.5 The long term effects of repeated concussions shall also be analysed, with a focus on
minors and the efforts that the various arbitrary sports bodies have made to ensure that major
* BCL (International), LLM (Candidate), University College Cork.
1 Paul McCrory and others, ‘Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on
Concussion in Sport held in Zurich’ (BJSM 2012) 1.
2 GAA, GAA Concussion Awareness Workshop Powerpoint (Ulster GAA, Abbey Street, 20 May 2014) 9,
<> accessed 9 March 2017.
3 See EIHA concussion <> accessed 9 March 2017.
4 Jordan Grafman and Andres M Salazar, Handbook of Clinical Neurology Traumatic Brain Injury Part 1 (Elsiever
5 See IRFU’s Relationship with ERC/ Six Nations 3.1 <> accessed 9
March 2017.

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