News   |    December 9th, 2021


Each year between 1.7 and 3 million people suffer from sports and recreation related concussions. Some 300,000 of those come from football. 5 in 10 concussions go unreported or undetected and it is clearly a big safety issue within all sports not just football.

England’s 1966 World Cup winners Nobby Stiles and Jack Charlton, who both died last year, had dementia, while Sir Bobby Charlton’s family recently revealed he had been diagnosed with the disease. Jan Vertonghen has recently detailed how he had felt the effects of concussion whilst playing for Spurs for the last nine months.

Concussion is essentially a traumatic brain injury, typically caused by a blow to the head, which can cause headaches and it can impact on concentration levels, memory, balance and coordination. If not treated appropriately or recognised, concussion can develop and become worse, even resulting in bleeds within the brain.

Despite doctors testing for possible concussion once a player has suffered a blow to the head, the testing is not always accurate and there are many variables that could affect the final decision. Therefore, the Premier League is now set to trial a saliva test that can be used to diagnose concussion. It is part of a joint action plan on brain health by the Premier League, Football Association, EFL and Professional Footballers’ Association.

Following a concussion episode, players will be asked to provide a baseline swab, then  three more swabs at given points in time. The same tests were performed on elite Rugby Union players where test results were identified as game changing.

The FA will also partner with the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby to give former footballers access to specialist services designed to manage brain health after retirement.

This is a great step into managing concussion patients and preventing the injuries from going undetected. No athlete should retire and fear the onset of a disease such as dementia. Credit goes out to all the governing bodies involved as this demonstrates a sense of cohesion between sports, with the best intentions of the athletes firmly on their agenda.

Photograph: Paul Dennis/TGS Photo/Shutterstock

Alfie Bobbins - Integral Sports Management.

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