Brain injury charity Headway has raised concerns over the application of Premier League rules on dealing with head injuries after an incident in the recent match between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Under new rules that took effect from the start of the 2014-15 season, a player suffering a head injury must leave the field of play even if there is only a suspicion of concussion.
On Sunday 5 October Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was declared fit to play on despite appearing to be significantly affected by a head injury after a clash with a player from the opposing team, Headway said. It took around 15 minutes for Courtois to be replaced and he was led from the pitch with blood apparently coming from his ear.
“The new rules introduced this season were designed to ensure no risks to players´ health were taken,” commented Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway.
“This incident calls into question whether these rules are working effectively, particularly in light of the fact that the player was later diagnosed as having sustained a minor concussion,” he added.
McCabe acknowledged that it is hard to assess the severity of any injury from television footage alone, but he stressed that a “safety-first approach” must be taken with all head injuries.
He said that players should be withdrawn from the field for observation after any indication of concussion, and pointed out that bleeding from one or both ears is one of the emergency symptoms to look out for that requires an immediate visit to hospital following a head injury.