Chelsea Criticised After Courtois Concussion

Controversy Arises After Keeper Plays On For 13 Minutes


Chelsea have become the latest football club facing accusations of a lack of care over a concussed player, following an incident involving goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois during the match against Arsenal yesterday (October 5th).

Courtois collided with Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez during the match and underwent a very brief assessment before being allowed to play on. However, 13 minutes later he was removed from the field of play with apparent bleeding from his ear.

Once substituted, Courtois was immediately attended to by paramedics and taken to hospital, where he was kept overnight for observation after being diagnosed with mild concussion.

This has led to suggestions that Chelsea's medical staff may have erred in allowing the player to stay on the field, in contravention of Football Association guidelines that were introduced ahead of the start of this season.

These state that a player should be substituted immediately "if there has been a confirmed or suspected period of loss of consciousness". They were introduced in response to the growing body of evidence regarding the dangers of allowing injured players to stay on the field, as well as controversial incidents like that involving Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who remained on the pitch at his own insistence despite being knocked out in a game last season.

Chelsea were criticised by Taylor Twellman, a former Major League Soccer player who now commentates on the game in the US. He tweeted: "So you guys want me to be convinced that the EPL Concussion Protocol has made a difference?! Courtois wasn't evaluated properly."

Manager Jose Mourinho insisted he had not tried to stop the medical staff taking the goalkeeper off. He said: "On the bench I don't communicate with the doctors. I just get decisions.

"The club doctor or medical department should take control and responsibility. They said yes at first, then after that no."

Courtois was replaced by Petr Cech, who has worn a protective helmet ever since suffering a serious head injury while playing for the club in late 2006.

On that occasion, Mourinho had complained about how long it took an ambulance to reach Reading's Madejski Stadium after Cech had been involved in a collision that left him with a fractured skull.

Expert Opinion
This incident is the latest in a long line that has highlighted the need for improved care when it comes to head injuries and the concussion that players can suffer during collisions in a game. In this case, the player was eventually removed from the field, but he was allowed to play on for 13 minutes after suffering a head injury. It is vital anyone suffering a head injury, no matter how serious, is correctly assessed and medical staff are allowed to make a decision in the interests of the player’s health.

“Despite Courtois being allowed to play on after his initial injury, it is yet more evidence that head injuries are now being taken more seriously, as doctors and paramedics were on hand to ensure he was given the correct treatment and care once he was removed from the pitch. It is crucial the new rules brought into force this season are regularly reviewed and assessed to ensure the correct procedure is being followed at all times and the health and safety of players is the top priority for all medical staff and club staff.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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