England players raise awareness over head injuries

"Don't be a hero" is the message to players in a new FA campaign on the dangers of concussion

Footballers have been told to "use your head" and look out for the signs of concussion in a new Football Association campaign seeking to raise awareness on how to deal with head injuries in football.

The new campaign, supported by a video featuring former captain Steven Gerrard and a number of current England stars warning of the dangers of concussion, was announced at the same time as a new Premier League rule which states that concussed players must be substituted from this season.

This follows a number of high profile incidents last season where players were allowed to stay on the pitch after appearing to suffer head injuries - most notably, Hugo Lloris who was allowed to continue in goal for Spurs against Everton in November after he appeared to lose conciousness.

An additional tunnel doctor will be present at all Premier League matches to assist medical staff, with the clear advice being that doctors insist on a substitution even if the concussion is suspected and not confirmed.

A Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool (Pocket CRT) - endorsed by FIFA and part of the FA's guidance - will help Premier League medics to identify possible concussion, by assessing visible clues, signs and symptoms in players deemed at risk.

Whilst most grassroots football matches are unlikely to have a medical professional in attendance, the Pocket CRT is available to download and print out at FIFA.com and is recommended as standard issue for any pitch-side medical kit.

The handy one-sheet document could help those involved at grassroots level to recognise signs of a potential concussion, which include - but are not limited to - confusion, balance problems, nausea, headaches, drowsiness and blurred vision.

The presence of one or more of these symptoms may suggest a concussion and the advice from the FA on making an assessment is clear:

* If there is any suspicion of a player having sustained a concussion, they must be removed from the field of play and not allowed to return;

* If there is no medical attendant present at the game, medical advice should be sought from the accident and emergency department;

* Players suffering a concussion must not return to play until they have received the 'all clear' from a medical professional that it is safe to do so

Further guidelines and resources are available to read on thefa.com/my-football , while all FA training courses from basic Level One coaching upwards now including sections on concussion.

Chair of the FA’s medical committee, Dr Ian Beasley, said: “The way in which head injuries and suspected concussion should be treated is the same right through the game, from the elite level to the grassroots. All managers, players and clubs need to understand the risks.

"The message to everyone, from players to parents and coaches, is clear; seek and listen to medical advice and take no chances – if there is any suspicion that a player has suffered a concussion they must stop playing. Always obtain advice from medical professionals and follow their advice on recovery and return to play.”

The new campaign and regulations were also welcomed by Headway, a leading brain injury charity.

"We are pleased to see the football authorities have addressed the serious issue of concussion," said their chief executive Peter McCabe. "These measures are a significant step forward in the protection of footballers at all levels and therefore are warmly welcomed.

"Grassroots players do not have the luxury of having doctors on standby should something go wrong, so it's vital that we make people aware of the risks."

To find out more about the FA's guidelines on head injuries in football, visit thefa.com/my-football.

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