Premier League Updates Concussion Policies

6 Aug

Use your head. This is the message from England’s Football Association (FA) who announced on August 5 revisions to their concussion guidelines. Throughout the 2013-14 season, a Medical Working Group reviewed existing policies related to head injuries. They drafted a handful of rule and policy changes, all of which have already been addressed and agreed to by the Premier League clubs for the 2014-15 season.


These changes include:

– The ruling of the club doctor is final. Players will be removed from the pitch and will not be allowed to return to the game if a club doctor or medical practitioner rules there has been a “confirmed or suspected period of loss of consciousness.” What this means is the manager is no longer the decision-making authority when it comes to possible head injuries.

Andrew Orsatti, the Communications Director for the footballers’ union FIFPro, stated to that “[w]hat is going to have to happen is more of a compromise which ensures that team physicians are not pressured by their managers to return players too quickly to the field of play,” said Orsatti. “We need to remove these potential vested interests and have independent doctors.”

I agree. There is still going to pressure on those doctors to do whatever the manager wants or risk losing their jobs. But at least moving the power to the doctors is a huge step in the right direction. They should have always been the authority on whether a player went back into a game or not. Isn’t there something in the hippocratic oath about not doing harm to anyone?

original– Annual baseline testing for all players. This testing will be conducted at the start of a season to measure a player’s mental faculties. Concussed players are to be tested again to see if their brain functions match the level they were at before the injury. This recommendation follows the lead of the MLS who adopted such testing back in 2011.

– Mandatory presence of tunnel doctors at every Premier League game. These doctors will aid the club doctors in diagnosing and treating any possible signs of concussion or head injury. They will also act as an additional set of eyes to spot possible injuries and to watch replays to judge injury severity.

– All Premier league staff must carry a Concussion Recognition Tool. This is the tool used by FIFA:

pocketAdditionally, all clubs are participating in the FA-led “Use Your Head” campaign to inform everyone about the seriousness of head injuries. This fine video was created in support of the poster campaign:

I’ve already relayed my thoughts on players being allowed to continue with a game after sustaining a head injury, and I am happy to see at least one major football league taking action to strengthen their policies for the benefit of the players. I’m still waiting though for FIFA to do something as well. Orsatti and FIFPro formally issued a request to FIFA for a review of their policies around head injuries after Alvaro Pereira was knocked out by Raheem Sterling’s knee during the Uruguay vs England game in the World Cup. To date, FIFA has not responded to FIFPro and have not initiated any policy reviews.

Chris Kramer in the 2014 World Cup Final. He only left the pitch after he collapsed a second time. Kramer has stated he has no memory of returning to the game after the initial downing.


5 Responses to “Premier League Updates Concussion Policies”

  1. Katie Ann August 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    Good on the Premier League for doing this. I think it’s a huge step in the right direction. I really like that the baseline testing is going to be part of this, too; we’ve been doing it for all our (high school) athletes for about three years now, and it’s been extremely helpful. A lot of people still don’t understand that concussion is serious, but seeing the test data makes it crystal clear.

    • hopechaser August 7, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

      At the high school level? That’s great! It’s just so sad it has taken the impairment and deaths of so many athletes in american football, hockey, soccer etc. to get us to where concussions are taken seriously.

      • Katie Ann August 8, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

        Oh yeah, we’ve got an AT and a local doctor who got educated themselves, and then got the whole staff educated- and did it years before concussion training was required for coaches here (which it is now). I’m very glad for it. Aside from the testing, we also have a consistent set of return to play policies/academic policies…. Very key.

  2. kfunk22 August 7, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    this is long overdue, glad to see some action finally taken on head injuries!


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    […] implemented accompanying protocols to protect players while they continue with their research. The Premier League made a bunch of revisions to their rules for this season to include this type of testing, […]

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