Sports Surgery Clinic Announces Major Investment in Concussion Research Programme

Sports Surgery Clinic today launched a pilot study to assess the effects of rehabilitation post-concussion in adolescent rugby players and the development of a Concussion Passport screening service.  The aim of the study is to collect data using a comprehensive range of computerised, exercise and physiological tests before and after a concussion, which will improve understanding of concussion management and how to treat it effectively, and ultimately, will make players safer in return to play.
In partnership with five Dublin schools – Blackrock College, St. Michael’s College, St. Andrew’s College, Gonzaga College and St. Mary’s College – Sports Surgery Clinic will screen 200 schoolboy rugby players for symptoms of concussion in pre-season 2016/2017 using a series of cutting-edge investigations.  Sports Surgery Clinic has invested €700,000 to support the pilot study and fund the equipping of a state-of-the-art concussion testing and rehabilitation facility.
Throughout the rugby season, the children will be monitored and any concussive event experienced during play will result in immediate access to treatment, monitoring of symptoms and rehabilitation under the care of sports medicine physicians at Sports Surgery Clinic.  Post-concussion test results will be measured against pre-season baseline results and recorded, outcomes of which will be provided to the player, his parents and his GP via an online portal.
Increasing evidence suggests that adolescent athletes respond differently following concussion and that individualised care is important in returning them to school, learning and sport.

The data collected during the pilot programme will help create a framework for the safe management of all adolescent athletes post-concussion and to develop a Concussion Passport that can be used to track school boys and girls through their careers.

The research team of experienced and well-respected sports medicine specialists is led by Dr Ciaran Cosgrave, Consultant in Sports & Exercise Medicine at Sports Surgery Clinic and lead doctor for Leinster Rugby.  Co-investigators include Professor John Ryan, Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine and team doctor to Leinster Senior Rugby Team and Professor Paul McCrory, neurologist and sports physician, Chairman of the Sports Surgery Clinic Research Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, from the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia.
The team is further boosted by the expertise of senior Sports Surgery Clinic medics; Dr Eanna Falvey, Director of Sports & Exercise Medicine and former Irish Senior Rugby Team doctor, Dr. Andy Franklyn Miller, Director of Rehabilitation & Research, Mr Cliff Beirne, Consultant Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon and Chairman of the Care Committee of the IRFU Charitable Trust and Colm Fuller, lead musculoskeletal physiotherapist.
According to Dr Andy Franklyn Miller, “Whilst the diagnosis of concussion remains at the forefront of research, we need to remember that children are sustaining concussion in all sorts of sports including GAA, rugby, horse riding, and in the playground, and have been for many years.  Improving the care of these athletes after a concussion is our immediate priority.”
“We hope to learn which of these screening tests are most sensitive to improve the rehabilitation pathway.  Memory, recall, thinking and understanding are not only vital to a student’s return to play but also of paramount importance to his or her ‘return to learn’, and this forms a large part of the study.”
Sports Surgery Clinic has developed a six phase concussion recovery process called The SSC6 Rehabilitation Pathway which sets out the journey from injury to safe return to play and study; Diagnosis and Assessment, Rest and Recovery, Return to Learn, Return to Submaximal Exercise, Return to Sport and Return to Performance.
Pre-season testing under the pilot study will commence in August.  As well as announcing the research project today, Sports Surgery Clinic officially launched its Concussion Passport Clinic to provide pre and post concussion testing to the general public.
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  • The Cogstate CCAT – a computerised brain health assessment, measuring reaction time, learning and memory skills, attention, concentration and problem solving capacity
  • Balance Assessment – computerised monitoring to assess how the brain controls movement
  • King-Devick Test – measuring of accuracy and speed of eye movements
  • Exercise Challenge Test – observation and measurement of the body’s ability to regulate heart rate and blood pressure whilst exercising on a treadmill
  • Blood Test – taken as baseline markers to compare in post concussion, and to investigate if genetics play a role in the concussion recovery path
  • ICS Impulse Test – using computerised goggles to measure inner ear system, vision and eye control
  • Activity, heart rate and sleep monitoring using a Fitbit wristband post concussion
  • Research participants will also complete an online questionnaire during pre-season, and during the season will access a daily online wellness measurement and symptom profile.
Dr. Ciaran Cosgrave is a Consultant in Sports & Exercise Medicine at the Sports Surgery Clinic. He is also the lead doctor at Leinster Rugby. He has a wealth of experience in elite sport having worked two seasons with Liverpool Football Club and with Team GB at the London Olympics. He has a particular research interest in rugby-related concussion and is the principal investigator in this study.
Professor Paul McCrory is a Consultant Neurologist, general physician and sports physician with particular expertise in the area of traumatic brain injuries and is particularly interested in sports concussions. In addition to clinical and research work, he consults for a wide variety of sporting bodies internationally. He has published extensively on the topic and is the lead author of the Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport.
Professor John Ryan is an Emergency Department Consultant at SVUH and Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine since 2008. He is also team doctor to Leinster Senior Rugby Team. He has considerable experience in dealing with sports related concussion, particularly in the acute setting and pitch side with Leinster Rugby.
Dr. Eanna Falvey is the Director of Sports & Exercise Medicine at the Sports Surgery Clinic. He has worked extensively in team sport, most notably being the Irish Senior Rugby Team doctor for the last 6 years. During that time, he was doctor to the successful British & Irish Lions tour to Australia in 2013. He was doctor to Munster Rugby when they won the inaugural Heineken Cup in 2006 and has been the Irish Amateur Boxing Association high performance unit physician since 2009 during a period of unrivalled success for Irish boxing. His research interests include athletic groin pain, sports injury epidemiology and sports injury management.
Mr Cliff Beirne is a Consultant Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon at the Sports Surgery Clinic and is Chairman of the Care Committee of the IRFU Charitable Trust. He was previously honorary Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon to the IRFU and has long been an advocate of concussion management in elite sport. He has a particular interest in head injuries in rugby and hockey and is an advocate of safe return to play.
Dr. Andy Franklyn Miller is the Director of Rehabilitation & Research at the Sports Surgery Clinic. He has worked as team doctor to British Olympic Rowing, England Rugby, Melbourne Storm Rugby League and the New Zealand Black Ferns alongside running the SSC Research activity and rehabilitation unit. Previously Director of the Centre for Human Performance at the UK Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court.
Colm Fuller is the lead musculoskeletal physiotherapist at the Sports Surgery Clinic. Having previously worked with Munster Rugby and London Irish senior rugby teams, he has considerable experience in the management of injuries and guided return to play processes. Colm is currently preparing for a collaborative PhD in UCC with Calgary University and the Florey Institute in the Rehabilitation of players post concussion.

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