A new rule was introduced by the Premier League to help protect players from concussions caused by head injuries. Starting with the 2014-2015 season, a doctor in the tunnel (separate from the doctors on either team) will determine a player’s ability to rejoin the game after an injury instead of the club’s managers.
The ruling was first set into motion last season when the Premier League set up a Medical Working Group to look through the League’s existing rules as well as their policies on injuries sustained on the pitch.
The new rules state that if a player sustains a head injury, they must leave the pitch immediately and be examined by their team doctor before a decision can be made to allow them to return. Home teams must also provide an extra “tunnel” doctor in order to assist the doctor’s from both teams in case of an injury.
Before the season begins, all players participating in the Premier League will undergo neurological tests included in their pre-season check-up in order to establish a baseline to better determine if a head injury occurs.
A team of doctors from the FA, Football League, PFA and LMA will also be educating clubs on head injuries, how to better spot them and how to treat them if the situation arises. They will also show the players how to recognize certain symptoms of head injuries.
“Player safety is paramount in all sports and the Premier League has a strong track record of introducing new medical rules and provisions as top-level football has evolved and new challenges emerged,” said Mike Foster, the Premier League Director of Football. A video of players talking about concussion symptoms was also released this week on the Premier League’s official website, said to help create awareness of these issues.
Concussions are becoming a bigger problem in recent sports history, with players from all types of leagues and sports suffering serious long-term injuries if not properly treated for these types of injuries immediately. The American National Football League recently settled with former NFL players for over $760 million dollars who said that the NFL covered up the true dangers of concussions. The hope is that other leagues will follow the Premier League’s lead in looking to make comprehensive changes to their safety rulings for their players. Major League Soccer has had a concussion policy in place for a couple of years. Similar to the EPL’s recent ruling, a player must be removed from the game immediately if a head injury is thought to be sustained.
Despite the progress being made by the Premier League, former footballer and now ESPN pundit Taylor Twellman pointed out a disadvantage of the new Premier League policy:
Ideally you don't want a club doctor making the decision but rather a "neutral" doctor. #BPLConcussionProtocol
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) August 5, 2014