New Editorial Calls For New Concussion Protocols in Soccer

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Last week I discussed the handling of potential brain injuries in the World Cup, along with countless other critics who have seen players endure harsh blows to the head which cause them to collapse and writhe in pain, only to see the players return to the game moments later looking dazed but determined to play on.

Germany's Christoph Kramer gets hit in the face by Argentina's Ezequiel Garay shoulder (2) while pinned between Garay and Marcos Rojo during the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. | Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo

Germany’s Christoph Kramer gets hit in the face by Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay shoulder  while pinned between Garay and Marcos Rojo during the World Cup final – Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo

While most of the criticism has come from journalists and reporters for traditional media outlets, one scientific journal has joined the call for more thorough concussion rules in the World Cup and sports as a whole.

The Lancet Neurology published an editorial today which calls for sports authorities to take the long term problems associated with repeated concussions more seriously. Specifically, the journal editors note that cerbral concussion is the most common form of sports-related traumatic brain injury, and the long-term effects of repeated concussion can include dementia, ALS, and countless other neurological disorders.

More troubling, the symptoms of these concussions are often delayed, but neurological damage can remain without detection. This can lead to situations where players, such as Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira or Germany’s Christoph Kramer during the 2014 World Cup, are able to to overrule doctors’ advice to be substituted in favor of returning to play.

The journal editors argue that players should not have the choice of returning to play. Rather the call should be made only by healthcare professionals and “should surely be taken out of the hands of those with a vested interest in the player’s performance.”

The editors also note tat “many sporting organizations now acknowledge the potentially serious consequences of mild TBI and have drawn up new protocols to protect athletes who sustain a head injury. However FIFPro, the world players’ union, has called for an investigation of concussion protocols and return-to-play standards following Pereira’s injury.” FIFA has not publicly commented on the injury or calls for an investigation.

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