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Concussions in Football


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I know a large portion of you were sick of hearing about concussions and how serious they are during the World Cup, so I expect this topic to be as well received as a Mrs. Bimpy selfie.


BUT, concussions are serious. Serious enough that I think we'll eventually see an in-game rule change in response, so I think it's a worthy topic. Plus, in what would have been considered a sign of the apocalypse even a decade ago, the Premier League announced a new concussion policy today.




Under the new guidelines, players will now be forced off the field of play and prevented from returning at the ruling of a doctor or medical practitioner if there has been a "confirmed or suspected period of loss of consciousness."


In addition to making the doctor's say final, the Premier League has announced that "tunnel doctors" will be mandatory for all league games. They will be present to aid the club doctors in recognising the signs of concussion.


From the start of the new season, all Premier League staff will have to carry a Concussion Recognition Tool.


Perhaps the most significant move is the recommendation of annual baseline testing. In American football and rugby union, players undergo a series of tests prior to the start of each season designed to test the sharpness of their mental faculties. Concussed players are then tested again, to check if their brain is functioning at the same level as before the injury.


It's a good start, nearly identical to how it's handled in the NFL, however, a fundamental difference in the two sports is, I believe, going to lead to another change. In the NFL you can make limitless substitutions so while a player is being examined the game can continue without either team being penalized. Outside of a goalkeeper injury like Lloris last season, I'm assuming play will also continue in the PL while the examination is occurring except one team will be down a man. You can imagine the pressure this will put on the medical staff to make a quick decision.


Possible Rule Change #1: Teams are allowed to make a temporary substitution while a potentially concussed player is being examined, giving the medical staffs as much time as they need to make a decision. If the player can go back on he does so and it doesn't count against the three subs. If not...


This gets a bit tricker, but how many doctors are going to want to tell Jose Mourinho his player can't go back on despite Chelsea having already made all three subs? It's a very difficult situation and one that has certainly caused problems in other sports.


Possible Rule Change #2 If it's determined that a player has sustained a head injury and cannot continue then he can be replaced without counting against the three allotted substitutions.


Either of these would likely be abused with fake head injuries leading to temporary tactical changes and all sorts of shenanigans, so they would need to be well thought out (I just made these up now) but we've clearly hit the tipping point in terms of recognizing the seriousness of head injuries and I think we'll see more and more strict protocols put in place in all sports.


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Never known a nation of people be so keen to talk about a type of injury before. Very odd.

This is because NFL, a sport with extreme physical violence, in which certain positions of players run into each other at full force every play and the majority will experience violent collisions every game, has been producing players that have dementia similar to pugilist dementia and are dying at young ages. I believe that trend is nearly entirely the result of the nature of that sport and will not affect most others (rugby, maybe), frankly, but it is good to see health issues taken seriously. My main concern in football is attempting to improve cardiac testing and potential salvage efforts if arrest does occur. This has happened all too often in football recently.

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