The Premier League today announced new guidelines and rules with regards to head injuries and concussions, and Arsenal doctor Gary O’Driscoll was a key member of the panel tasked with making recommendations.
As reported on Arsenal.com, “A working group headed up Premier League director of football, Mike Foster; chairman of the Premier League Doctors’ Group and Arsenal club doctor, Dr Gary O’Driscoll; The FA’s head of sports medicine, Dr Ian Beasley; and members of the PFA, LMA and Football League.”
There was controversy during the World Cup in Brazil when players who had suffered head injuries, and even lost consciousness, were allowed continue, and the new guidelines put in place for the 2014-15 season include:
– Premier League rules making clear that when a serious head injury is suffered on the pitch (in matches or training) that the ruling of the doctor/medical practitioner is final.
– The role of “tunnel doctors” (it is a new requirement for all Premier League matches to include a tunnel doctor) will include supporting the home and/or away team doctors in helping recognise the signs of concussion.
– Making it mandatory for all Premier League medical staff to carry the concussion recognition tool
– Annual baseline testing should take place on each Premier League player
O’Driscoll, who left his job with the IRFU in part because he disagreed with their stance on concussion and head injuries in rugby, said, “With regard to head injuries there has been a perception in the past that you can tough it out, you can play on, you can be brave.
“You need to make sure that everybody is aware of concussion, that everybody understands that it is just as significant as any other injury and that appropriate management is critical.
“We’d really like for everybody involved in the game to accept that concussion is a brain injury. We are acting in your best interests, and the team’s best interests. To take a player off is for his short-term, medium-term and long-term benefit.”