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La Liga Set To Adopt New Protocol With 3 Rs

Written By Onyeka Daniel

As part of LaLiga’s efforts to keep improving player safety and wellbeing, the 42 professional football clubs that make up LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank have taken part in an advanced training course to increase awareness and understanding of concussions.

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Real Sociedad’s first-team doctor Javier Barrera, was selected to work with FIFPRO medical staff on this issue in January, before presenting the latest information on concussions to his colleagues.


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Barrera did present an advanced course to his counterparts from the La Liga Santander and the lower division on the subject matter, stressing on the 3 Rs (Recognize, Report and Remove), using video examples of actual players that suffered concussion while playing football.

The video presented featured concussions suffered by Álvaro Pereira, Christoph Kramer and Nordin Amrabat at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

In collaboration with the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE), the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO) and European Leagues, LaLiga has highlighted the six main signs of a possible concussion to club doctors, which includes lying motionless; motor incoordination; tonic posturing; no protective action or flopping; a blank or vacant look; and impact seizure.

The club doctors are expected to emphasize these to the rest of their staff and to the players themselves. Barrera made it clear to his fellow medical professionals that:

“As doctors, we should be clear about these three things and should explain this to the players too. The first is how to detect a concussion. The second is that a player with a concussion should be removed from the pitch and not allowed to go back on.”

“The third is to give the player sufficient time to recover. We’ve seen that if we do this then the rate of recurring concussions or persistent symptoms is a lot lower. In other words, letting a player continue playing or letting them return to action too soon can make the rate of persistent symptoms or recurring concussions higher and there is solid evidence on this.”

That is why football’s governing bodies are working to determine a more standard protocol for concussions and this is a matter that FIFPRO’s chief medical officer Vincent Gouttebarge is prioritising, having suffered concussions during his own career.

Meanwhile…

Geni Martínez, the director of AFE’s Health Department, also stated: “From AFE’s point of view, it’s important for the players to be aware and involved. The players can say to their teammates ‘you should go off because your health is more important than the match’.

“I think this is part of the challenge, to inform the players and to ensure they’re able to identify such a situation, prioritising the health of their teammates.”

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Luis Gil, the head of Competitions & Player´s Office, also explained: “LaLiga and AFE are going to promote and support this training, and we’ll make use of our internal channels, such as the Players App we have at LaLiga or the captains’ network of AFE.

“We know the difficulties that can often exist in making players aware of this issue. We know it’s a challenge and that it’s difficult. But, it’s important for the players to be able to identify the signs or symptoms of a possible concussion in order to help their teammates and to put health first and foremost. It’s important that they can communicate this to the coaching and medical staff.”

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