Cardiac Screening and GAA Injury Database


Cardiac Screening and GAA Injury Database

Cardiac Screening

The GAA's Medical Scientific and Welfare Committee today announced an update to its position paper on Cardiac screening following the completion of a two year research programme in which nearly 300 GAA players were examined in an attempt to assess the effectiveness of various screening methods.

Following consideration of the results of the programme and the most up to date international best practice guidelines, the GAA have advised that the most effective way to identify risk is for players over the age of 14 to undergo cardiac screening on one occasion. It is also advised that this process be repeated before the age of 25. Players should consult their team or family doctor if they wish to get screened and screening should consist of completion of the GAA's Cardiac Screening Questionnaire, a Physical Examination and an ECG.

The Chairman of the GAA's Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee, Dr Danny Mulvihill said: "The instance of Sudden Cardiac Death in the general populace under 35 is a rare occurrence and remains very difficult to predict. The study we undertook would indicate that cardiac screening along the lines we have suggested is the best predictor of potential risk." He added that while no screening programme is 100% effective, it has been shown to help in identifying risk in the general populace. Dr Mulvihill also welcomed the recent report of the National Taskforce on Sudden Cardiac Death which had found that less than 1 in 10 of all instances of the condition occurred while under exertion such as playing football or hurling.

The GAA's defibrillator programme - initiated in 2005 - has seen defibrillators made available in all county grounds as well as over 1000 defibrillators being purchased by clubs as part of a subsidized scheme set up by the Association and administered by its Player Welfare Office. Clubs who wish to purchase defibrillators can do so by contacting Stephen Browne (stephen.browne@gaa.ie or 01 8658685)

The Medical Committee today also announced details of a new initiative being rolled out in association with the G.P.A. which will assist doctors in interpreting ECG's. Dr Muvihill explained: "Interpretation of ECG's in athletes can present difficulties and where difficulties arise, the GAA in conjunction with the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) have implemented a programme whereby any doctors carrying out a cardiac screening programme for a GAA player will be able to send that ECG to the cardiac department in the Mater under Dr. Joseph Galvin to have a sports cardiology opinion on the ECG." He said that the availability of such a facility should prove extremely beneficial in assisting diagnosis.

The project will be funded as part of the player welfare initiatives being rolled out by the G.P.A in association with the G.A.A and follow similar initiatives undertaken in this area by the GAA including and training initiatives for club members, officers and match officials.

GAA Injury Database

The Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee also presented some findings from the GAA's Injury database today. The database, under the direction of Mr John C Murphy of the MSW Committee and Dr Catherine Blake and Ms Edwenia O Malley of the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, has tracked injury data from 17 inter county Gaelic Football and 16 Inter county hurling teams since it was established in 2007.

The database shows that the most common injuries sustained in Gaelic games are;

Mr Murphy said he was satisfied that the database showed the instance of injury in Gaelic games to be largely in line with that experienced in field sports of a similar nature such as Australian Rules football. He said that among the results that would be of particular interest to the GAA and the medical community were :

On the issue of concussion, Mr Murphy said that while the instance in Gaelic games was largely consistent with that experienced in Australian Rules football, it was important that players, managers and coaches become more aware of what concussion is, its symptoms and signs, the possible side effects and the guidelines with respect to returning to play. He said the GAA's Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee would be actively working with in the coming months to generate greater awareness around concussion in sport. The GAA's own position paper on Concussion and various other injuries can be viewed at http://www.gaa.ie/medical-and-player-welfare/injuries/types-of-injury/ .

Mr Murphy said it was obvious from the statistics on recurrent injuries that allowing significant time for recovery and proper rehabilitation could have major beneficial effects for players in the long term, particularly in relation to hamstring and groin injuries. He said the AFL had managed to halve their instance of recurrence from between 1997 and 2009, and he added that through better education and greater awareness among players, coaches and managers, there was no reason why the current GAA injury recurrence rates within the same season of 18.2% (football) and 12.8% (hurling) could not be significantly reduced.

Other information gleaned from the database and presented today included:

The members of the GAA's Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee are Dr Danny Mulvihill (Chairman), Professor Niall Moyna, Dr Pat Duggan, Dr Pat O'Neill, Dr Philip Carolan, Dr Rod McLoughlin, Ronan Carolan, James Sherry, John Murphy, Dr Matt Conran, Feargal Mc Gill, Mr Cliff Beirne, John Conran, Paul Kelly and Stephen Browne (Secretary, Croke Park). Former member and Kilkenny team doctor, Dr Tadhg Crowley also played a key role in the development of GAA policy on cardiac screening.