The Premier League finally instituted a concussion protocol prior to this season. It was a much-needed addition to the game, seeing as players are all-too-often subject to head injuries and had almost never received proper care.
Nearly an entire year after the league took that action, we’ve only learned one thing about treating head injuries in the Premier League: rules are useless if no one follows them. And right now, no one is following the league’s concussion protocols.
The latest example came in North London on Sunday when David Ospina clattered into Oscar.
Now, putting aside that it was a dangerous play that should have earned the goalkeeper a red card and Chelsea a penalty, it was clear right away that Oscar was in bad shape. He got hit in the head and immediately fell to the turf. He was visibly dazed and struggled to sit up.
There was no doubt that, at the very least, Oscar could have had a head injury. What treatment did he receive? He talked to the trainer for a bit, walked off the pitch and ran back on less than a minute after play resumed.
LESS THAN ONE MINUTE LATER.
So let’s check in on the Premier League’s concussion protocol:
Premier League Rules making clear that when a serious head injury is suffered on the pitch (in matches or training) that the ruling of the doctor/medical practitioner is final.
Well they passed this test because Oscar was looked at by the trainer and never went back to the bench so the manager couldn’t have put him back in. He wanted back in and the trainer said go for it.
The role of “Tunnel Doctors” (it is a new requirement for all Premier League matches to include a Tunnel Doctor) will include supporting the home and/or away team doctors in helping recognize the signs of concussion.
Oscar never made it to the tunnel, and the two people who were observing him both had Chelsea jumpsuits on. Unless the impartial tunnel doctor was decked out in Chelsea gear, he never got a look at Oscar.
Making it mandatory for all Premier League medical staff to carry the Concussion Recognition Tool
I mean, the tool is literally a set of questions; so sure, why not. They had it, or something. And it takes all of one minute to ask them.
Annual baseline testing should take place on each Premier League player
Sure, let’s pretend they did this.
So what did we learn here? Premier League clubs still aren’t putting players through their own concussion protocol so it doesn’t really matter that the league instituted them.
We’re not even going to get into whether the entire sport of soccer takes head injuries seriously enough (they don’t), or whether the Premier League’s protocol is adequate (it’s not close). It doesn’t really matter because even the small measures that have been put in place aren’t being followed. And it’s not like it’s a big deal — it’s just trauma to the part of a human being’s body that governs their entire function.
So what was the result of Oscar’s scary injury? He played the remainder of the half, then was taken to the hospital. Hopefully the injury doesn’t prove too serious and the doctors look after him well. Someone needs to, since the club and the Premier League won’t.