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New head injury rules force players who lose consciousness to leave Premier League games

Aug 5, 2014, 11:48 PM EDT

Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Lloris is attended to by medical staff after being involved in a collision with Everton's Lukaku during their English Premier League soccer match at Goodison Park in Liverpool Reuters

The headline reads like something from the 1980s, but here we are, one month after a World Cup that featured a number of high-profile, seemingly under-treated, head injuries, and most of the world still doesn’t have a concussion protocol in place. As we saw with Hugo Lloris in last year’s Premier League, a player can take a blow to the head, clearly lose consciousness, and convince staff to let him play on.

This year, that changes. At least, in England it does. According to one report, the Premier League and Football Association has instituted new rules that force a player to be removed if he loses consciousness. Other head injuries require a sideline evaluation before the player’s cleared to continue.

In The Guardian’s words:

Players who lose consciousness in English top-flight matches next season will not be allowed to return to the field of play under new rules introduced by the Premier League and Football Association to limit the risks associated with head injuries. Players who have not lost consciousness will still have to undergo an on-field or touchline assessment before being allowed to continue.

The FA has launched a campaign, backed by the Premier League, highlighting a set of guidelines that should be followed after a player suffers a head injury to ensure a safe return to action over a period of time.

Later in the post, FA chief medical officer Dr. Ian Beasley outlines the need for caution:

“Managers, players and clubs need to understand the risks associated with head injuries. The advice of medical professionals is key in this area, and whilst 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.

With personalities like ESPN’s Taylor Twellman keeping the issue at the forefront of U.S. soccer, concussion awareness is relatively high (if imperfect) around MLS, but as we saw last season and at the World Cup, there are still a lot of old world attitudes about the dangers of head injuries.

Given the serious risks of a potential second impact, identifying concussions is crucial. Thanks to its new rules, the Premier League will do a better job of limiting that exposure.

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