As the new season kicks off this weekend, the Premier League has announced its intention to introduce new rules on the assessment of head injuries which will require players suffering a head injury to leave the pitch and undergo an assessment by the club doctor. It is thought that a number of incidents over the past year, where players were briefly knocked unconscious and continued to play, are behind the change in regulations.
The new rules, which will take effect from the start of the 2014-2015 season, will give doctors the power to decide whether a player is capable of continuing rather than the team management as previously. Not only will a player have to leave the pitch for immediate assessment but any home team will be required to have an additional doctor on match-days to support the work of the doctors for both sides. Furthermore, players will have to undergo baseline neurological assessments as part of their annual medical check-up to help doctors measure their recovery time if they are concussed.
Charlene McAuliffe, case manager in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, comments: “This is a really sensible move and an important step to protect footballers. A head injury can be an evolving injury with symptoms that may not immediately present themselves but, if an individual is not properly assessed by a medical professional and treatment started promptly or continues to play, the consequences can be severe.
“We are wholly supportive of these new measures and are pleased to see that the Premier League is taking steps to ensure that potential head injuries are taken seriously. There is a vast range of circumstances that can give rise to accidents serious enough to cause a brain injury and concerns have previously been raised regarding the level of awareness of this within the sporting industry. As the effects of a head injury can be devastating for both the injured person and their family, safety must come first.”