sport

FA introduces head injury rules

The Football Association has introduced new guidelines and rules for the management of concussion and head injuries next season.

The campaign, which is supported by the Premier League, Football League and League Managers' Association, is accompanied by an education programme which will be rolled out in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association to help raise awareness among players.

The FA guidelines set out the procedures and processes which follow any suspected head injury and how players should be re-introduced to competitive football over time through the new 'return to play' rules.

The rules detail that after any 'confirmed or suspected period of loss of consciousness' the player must be removed from the field of play and not be allowed to return.

Where no loss of consciousness is apparent an on-field or touchline assessment will take place.

The FA's recommendations set out the requirement for all players to undergo pre-season baseline cognitive testing every season, to detect any risk that may exist through previous injury.

Any players who have suffered two or more episodes of head injury must go through mandatory detailed psychometric testing.

The return to play guidelines say such testing should be carried out every 48 hours following an incident to assess the injury while a clinical assessment should be made daily, with a minimum period of six days in which time the player will be ineligible to return to play.

Premier League rules have been amended for the 2014/15 season to reflect the fact that the decision of the team doctor be final when determining whether or not a player who has sustained a head injury is fit to continue playing or training.

The rules require the presence of a member of the medical team to look after players who leave the field of play with head injuries while all home teams must provide a doctor who will watch the match on a monitor inside the tunnel.

They also include an awareness campaign, presentations and an educational film featuring England players Steven Gerrard, Leighton Baines and Rickie Lambert, which will be made available to players ahead of the new season.

Dr Ian Beasley, chair of the FA's medical committee, said: \"Managers, players and clubs need to understand the risks associated with head injuries.

"The advice of medical professionals is key in this area, and while we have developed processes to deal with many types of injury this is an area that has perhaps needed some more scrutiny.

\"We have worked closely with the stakeholders to develop these new guidelines and the message is clear for players; 'listen to medical advice and take no chances, stop playing and take your time to recover'.\"

Mike Foster, director of football for the Premier League, said: "The Premier League clubs have adopted a number of recommendations from this group.

"One of these is to make it absolutely abundantly clear that in situations where a head injury is suffered the decision of the doctor is not only paramount, it is final."