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Better assessing of head injuries needed during football matches

Potter Rees Dolan have joined calls for better opportunity for assessing head injuries following another incident at the Leeds v Manchester United match last Sunday.

The issue regarding the concussion protocols seems to be constantly mis-handled by the football authorities when it comes to elite level sport. The risk is where you have a player who has a second concussive or sub-concussive injury when his brain is still recovering from the first injury. This can result in severe or fatal brain injuries. It is for this reason that concussion protocols exist in all sports. 

The key difference between football and, say rugby, is that the pressure on the medical experts making the decisions is enormous. For every second that they take the club that employs them is at a disadvantage on the pitch by playing with a player fewer than the opposition. They may experience pressure from the player himself or club officials wanting to get the player or his replacement onto the pitch. This creates pressure on the medical professionals to make quick decisions. The extra permanent substitute does nothing to remove this pressure from the medical experts and rather misses the point. 

The obvious outcome from rushed decisions is that the medical experts can make mistakes by not having enough time to build a complete picture. Clearly Robin Koch had a concussive injury that was missed, along with others before them including Issa Diop, George Baldock and Jan Vertonghen. If any one of those young men had clashed heads when going for a header or fallen hard after a tackle then the consequences could have been catastrophic.  

Given that other sports have introduced a 10 minute temporary substitute which allows a fuller medical assessment it remains inexplicable that the FA would not follow suit. 

Gary Herbert is a Partner in personal injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about a head injury in sport or indeed any other aspect of personal injury and wish to speak to Gary or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Gary directly.