The English Premier League, one of the top leagues in professional soccer, recently enacted new protocols designed to help manage the effects of concussions suffered by its players. Under the new rules, all players will be given baseline neuropsychological testing for later comparison prior to each season, in much the same way that the NFL, the NHL and NASCAR already do. Any player who has received a concussion (or is even sufficiently suspected of having received a concussion) will be automatically removed from the remainder of a given game. The decision whether or not the player has received a concussion will be solely up to the team doctor, rather than allowing coaches or players themselves to make that all too crucial call.
These new rules follow on the heels of the World Cup, at which Alvaro Pereira of Uruguay and Christoph Kramer of Germany both continued to play after receiving concussions. Former United States National Team member and current television analyst Taylor Twellman brings up the concern that a neutral doctor would be a better choice to make these evaluations than a team doctor, as the team doctor may feel pressure from the organization under which he’s employed to allow a star player to return. Though his point is valid, this nonetheless still doubtlessly represents a much-needed step in the right direction as concerns the health and well-being of professional soccer players. Moreover, as the English Premier League tends to be a trendsetter for other leagues, this likely bodes well for the further implementation of concussion protocols in leagues around the world. After all, a concussion is just another word for brain injury and the better that these injured players are cared for, the less likely it is that their injuries will lead to permanent brain damage.
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