PFA to educate Australian players on risks of concussion and head trauma

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Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) say they will deliver concussion education for all A-League and W-League players for the first time.

The issue of concussions and head trauma has been the subject of increasing debate as current and former players go public with the issues they have faced. 

Recently, Wolves striker Raul Jiminez has been ruled out for an unspecified period of time having undergone surgery on a fractured skull following his clash of heads with David Luiz at Arsenal last month.

Former Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen said a blow to the head in the Champions League semi-finals last year left him dizzy and suffering from headaches for nine months, and ruined the last season of his contract at Spurs. 

The PFA's own research reveals that across the past five A-League and W-League seasons, 11 and 10 concussions were sustained across the two competitions, leading to 14 and 40 matches missed by players affected, respectively. 

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill said the concussion education would serve as a vital component of the PFA’s annual inductions, which, as well as the concussion module include information on the PFA’s wellbeing, education, retirement and transition and financial literacy services. 

“The game has a duty of care to our players and given that the spectrum of health impacts related to concussion and head trauma in football are still emerging, we need to ensure our players are educated on the associated risks of this type of injury,” said Gill. 

“Concussions, like many other injuries, are often unavoidable in football, but with the right information, players, staff and officials have the know how to respond immediately in the acute phase of a head injury. 

“This education will empower the players to make important decisions in relation to themselves, their teammates and their opponents, by clearly outlining the importance of recognising, reporting and removing concussed players, even when the players themselves may want to continue.” 

When it comes to head trauma there are five main clusters of symptoms; physical, emotional, cognitive, sleep disturbance and balance.  

In 2019, FIFPro, the international football players union consulted professional players, unions and concussion experts, including medical specialists from other sports, which unanimously recommended to focus on ‘the three R’s’: 

  • Recognise a possible concussion in a teammate or opponent; 
  • Report a suspected concussion to the coaching and medical staff; and 
  • Remove any player with a suspected concussion from the field. 

Football’s lawmaking body IFAB announced on Thursday that planned trials have been approved for concussion substitutions from January 2021. 

Source SBS The World Game