Using our Heads
Last month's World Cup provided some entertaining soccer played by some of the world's greatest players. It also provided object lessons in how NOT to respond to suspected on-field concussions. So...it seems like a good time to revisit the issue of concussions in youth soccer, and to remind ourselves what effective concussion management should look like.
At Milltown, our coaches are trained in a "Recognize, Remove, Refer" management protocol that emphasizes recognition of the signs and symptoms of concussion, removal from play of any player suspected of sustaining a concussion, and referral to a qualified health care provider prior to return to play. In no case will a coach allow a player to return to play on the day of a suspected concussion, and/or without clearance from a health care provider.
The success of this protocol depends not only on our coaches, but on players and spectators as well. Coaches can't see everything (although they need to try). It is imperative that parents and players review the signs and symptoms of concussion, which can be found on our Concussion Information page. Knowing these signs and symptoms will help players and parents communicate with coaches, and this is something coaches NEED and WANT them to do. Those who are interested can also review our Concussion Training page, and may want to complete the brief online video training.
Of course, we also need to look at evidence-based risk reduction strategies, and research is currently underway that should help us in this area. But in the meantime, let's do what we can to recognize concussions when they happen, and to respond appropriately. As we head into the season, I encourage all our members to take an active part in helping us get this right. Few, if any, things are more important this season.
Enjoy the last few weeks of summer, and I look forward to seeing you out on the pitch.
President, Milltown United Soccer Club