Grassroots football players across Essex are being reminded to read The FA’s Concussion Guidelines ahead of the 2019/20 season to prevent serious head injuries as the campaign gathers pace throughout pre-season.
In May, The FA reached out to players by highlighting three different stories from three levels of the game. All shared one outcome - a concussion. The stories featured in ‘Concussion for Players: Lessons from the Pitch’, a film aimed at raising awareness among players about the importance of recognising and responding to symptoms of concussion.
For former Reading and Ireland striker Kevin Doyle, “it happened in training.” With Chelsea and England defender, Millie Bright, “it was an aerial duel between me and the striker.” And for grassroots player, Mitch Lacey, it was when an opponent “came straight through me with his elbow into the back of my head.”
Dr Lisa Hodgson, The FA’s medical education lead, is one of the experts behind the film. She explained: “Our hope is that we can get as many players around the country watching this film. If you’re a coach, parent or carer of a player - no matter what age or level - we recommend first giving this a watch and then finding a way of sharing it with your players.”
“Having such honest accounts from Kevin, Millie and Mitch - all of whom have experienced concussion at different levels of the game - shows that concussion isn’t something that happens to one type of player. It occurs due to one event or causes one type of head injury with the same symptoms. Concussion is multifactorial in both cause and outcome.”
“The more players we can reach and help understand that a head injury is an injury to the brain and isn’t something you can shake off and that, if in doubt, it really is okay to sit it out, the more we can create safer football experiences for all.”
Hodgson goes on to explain that the film is not a new tool or a replacement of The FA’s concussion guidelines - instead it’s a useful resource for coaches, parents and carers to engage their players around the topic of concussion: “This isn’t a substitute for our guidelines, which remain our education tool for anyone responsible for the care and safety of players on a matchday.”
“It’s instead an opportunity for us to share real life stories from the game to connect with players and show that a concussion can happen to any player, at any level, at any time. The important thing is how you respond in that moment - if in doubt, sit it out.”
As well as the three players, the film also features Jonathan Hanson, a renowned sports physician and emergency care adviser to The FA, who is on-hand to provide some interesting things to know about concussions - starting with some misconceptions: “I think the strongest one is the idea that you have to be knocked out to have a concussion.”
“That only happens in about 10% of people. The vast majority of players who have a concussion don't lose consciousness, they're not knocked out. The other one would be that you have to have a bang on the head to get a concussion.”
“It can be that it's just a shoulder charge, a body check, that can give enough force to the head and to the brain to cause a concussion, without actually a bang on the head.”
If you’re interested in learning more about concussion management, including what to do in the event of a head injury, and implementing a graduated return to play, read The FA’s concussion guidelines at www.thefa.com/learning/coaching/the-fas-concussion-guidelines.