What is Concussion?
Concussion is an injury to the brain, which results in a disturbance of its function. There are many symptoms of concussion, common ones being headache, dizziness, memory disturbance or balance problems.
What causes it?
Concussion can be caused by a direct blow to the head, but can also occur when a blow to another part of the body results in rapid movement of the brain, e.g. whiplash type injuries.
Onset of symptoms
The symptoms of concussion typically appear immediately, but their onset may be delayed and can appear at any time after the initial injury
It's important to remember that loss of consciousness doesn't always occur in concussion – in fact, it occurs in less than 10% of cases. Because of this, a concussed player may not have fallen to the ground after the injury, they could still be standing.
Who's at risk?
Concussions can happen to players at any age. However, children and adolescents (18 and under) are more susceptible to brain injury. They also:
- take longer to recover
- have more significant memory and mental processing issues
- are more susceptible to rare and dangerous neurological complications, including death caused by a single or second impact.
- Other risk factors include having had previous concussions (which also increases recovery time) and being female.
How to recognise concussion
If any of the following signs or symptoms are present after an injury, you should suspect that a player has a concussion and remove them from play or training immediately – with no return on the same day.
Signs of concussion – what you might see
Any one or more of the following visual clues can indicate a concussion:
- Dazed, blank or vacant look
- Lying motionless on ground / slow to get up
- Unsteady on feet / balance problems or falling over / poor coordination
- Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
- Confused / not aware of play or events
- Grabbing / clutching of head
- Seizure (fits)
- More emotional / irritable than normal for that person
- Symptoms of concussion – what the injured player might talk about
- Presence of any one or more of the following symptoms may suggest a concussion:
- Mental clouding, confusion, or feeling slowed down
- Visual problems
- Nausea or vomiting
- Drowsiness / feeling like 'in a fog' / difficulty concentrating
- 'Pressure in head'
- Sensitivity to light or noise
Speaking to the player
To help establish whether a player is injured, you can ask them a number of questions: incorrect answer(s) may suggest that they have a concussion. Some examples questions can be seen below – tailor them to your particular activity and even:
- What venue are we at today / where are we now?
- Which half is it now / approximately what time of day is it?
- Who scored last in this game /how did you get here today?
- What team did you play last game / where were you on this day last week?
- Did your team win the last game / what were you doing this time last week?
What to do next
Anyone with a suspected concussion must be immediately removed from play.
Once safely removed from play they must not be returned to activity that day.
Teammates, coaches, match officials, team managers, administrators or parents who suspect someone may have concussion must do their best to ensure that they are removed in a safe manner.
If a neck injury is suspected, suitable guidelines regarding the management of this type of injury at pitchside should also be followed.
If any of the following are reported then the player should be transported for urgent medical assessment at the nearest hospital emergency department:
- Severe neck pain
- Deteriorating consciousness (more drowsy)
- Increasing confusion or irritability
- Severe or increasing headache
- Repeated vomiting
- Unusual behaviour change
- Seizure (fit)
- Double vision
- Weakness or tingling / burning in arms or legs
In all cases of suspected concussion it's recommended that the player is referred to a medical or healthcare professional for diagnosis and advice, even if the symptoms resolve.
The FA has launched 'Concussion for players: lessons from the pitch' – a film aimed at raising awareness among players about the importance of recognising and responding to symptoms of concussion.
Athletes & Drugs
Professional sportspeople in any sport can fall victim to addiction for a number of reasons, it doesn't just happen to those who are perceived to have more successful careers and it doesn't just happen to those for whom maintaining their professional status is a constant battle. It doesn't just happen to men, it doesn't just happen to sportspeople from certain socio-economic backgrounds and it doesn't just happen to those who may have embraced the party lifestyle away from the sporting arena.
There are sufferers of addictive disorders in every walk of life outside sport and athletes are ultimately just the same. They're as susceptible to addiction as anyone else, and a high level of physical prowess and athleticism doesn't make them any more resistant to addiction.
Anyone can become an alcoholic or a drug addict, due to factors that may have absolutely nothing at all to do with their profession.
Athletes are, however, at a heightened risk of exposure to drug use. They may be prescribed substances to manage pain or to help them recover from injury, they may feel pressure to take substances to improve their performance, they may succumb to the temptations and pressures of attention from others that frequently comes with the job. This is before we even consider the impact of transition from a playing career into the 'real world' which some sportspeople can find is eased by alcohol, gambling and, yes - a wide variety of illegal and non-prescribed prescription drugs.
Drug use can frequently evolve into drug abuse, it often just needs time and any number of readily available extenuating circumstances in order to develop. There are actually a number of paths and substances people can fall into through professional sport, many of them geared towards improving performance or recovering from injury (sportingchance.com).
The use of banned substances, particularly performance-enhancing drugs, and other doping behaviour can severely damage the legitimacy of football and undermines the integrity of clean footballers.
All footballers have the right to play football knowing that they, their team-mates and the opposition, have not been using banned substances (which are referred to as “Prohibited Substances” in the Anti-Doping Regulations). The FA supports drug free football and works in partnership with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to ensure that the integrity of football is protected.
The FA’s Anti-Doping Regulations are consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code (2015 Code), which governs anti-doping internationally.
As well as checking with club staff, players can contact a number of organisations for advice and guidance.
The Football Association (The FA)
Visit The FA website for more information on the FA’s Anti-Doping programme, including information on Testing, Education and Whereabouts. Also available are videos of the drug testing procedures and copies of The FA’s latest educational resources.
Check Medications at GlobalDRO
The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) provides athletes and support personnel with information about the prohibited status of specific medications based on the current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.
Products can be searched for by ingredient and/or brand name.
Informed Sport is a risk minimisation programme, which batch tests supplements for substances that are prohibited within sport.
Reduce the risk of testing positive, visit visit: www.informed-sport.com for more information.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
WADA is an international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti Doping Code (Code)
Check the prohibited List details for the substances and methods that are banned in football. As a player you should ensure you know what is included on the list, which can be found at the WADA website.
UK Anti-Doping (UKAD)
UKAD is an active participant in the global fight against doping in sport - and is the national body responsible for creating a UK-wide environment of confidence in clean sport. Whether that is in competition, training or spectating. In the UK, UKAD make sure sports bodies comply with the World Anti-Doping Code through implementation and management of the UK’s National Anti-Doping Policy. Visit http://www.ukad.org.uk/about
Find out everything you need to know about drugs, their effects and the law. Talk to Frank for facts, support and advice on drugs and alcohol.
Tel: 0300 123 6600
Sporting Chance Clinic
If you feel you have lost the ability to make an informed choice about drug use, pick up the phone and ask for the help that you need. With Sporting Chance you will never be judged and you will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Tel: 0870 2200714
3. MENTAL HEALTH
Good mental health is vital for peak performance in sport. Mental health problems affect one in six of the population at any one time. Depression alone affects up to half of us during our lifetimes and affects every family at some stage. Despite this, many people are unaware of the symptoms of mental health problems.
Unsurprisingly, players known for physical fitness rarely talk about mental distress. Indeed many may not recognise what it is or know how to seek help for stress, anxiety or depression when it strikes.
The Sporting Chance Clinic, founded by Tony Adams, the former England captain who has written and talked about his own struggle with mental ill health and alcohol dependency - was set up to support sports men and women who experience similar problems and need professional help to overcome them.
Football is the beautiful game but it is also a tough game that makes huge demands on its players, it is important to remember that professional players are human beings not machines (Clark Carlisle).
The PFA has a 24/7/365 counselling telephone helpline service available to members.
In addition to the helpline, players past and present can access a national network of 90 fully-trained counsellors, all of whom understand the emotional roller-coaster that involvement in professional sport can entail.
The Union continues to offer support and funding to the Sporting Chance Clinic, allowing PFA members to receive residential treatment there.
The combination of these services offers current and former members a dedicated team of people and a safe and confidential environment to receive support and counselling.
The PFA Safety Net, is a place where you can get individual help and advice. It contains information regarding issues that people and players in particular, may have difficulty with from time to time.
You may be facing these same issues, register and log in to find out what some of these issues are. For confidential support, use the telephone number provided or the email facility (PFA Confidential Support) and somebody will contact you.
Tel: 07500 000 777
Sporting Chance Clinic
The overwhelming majority of people experience greater levels of stress during key life events. Moving home, births, deaths, illness, marriage and divorce are all examples of this.
This is equally true during significant developments throughout a sporting career: being released from a club, getting dropped or injured long term, suffering relegation or a chronic loss of form that lasts from one tournament to the next, the negative press coverage linked to you or your team. These are all times when stress levels increase. As people in the 'public-eye', sportspeople are more vulnerable to attack.
Tel: 0870 2200714
Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
Tel: 0300 123 3393
Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems
Fighting for young people's mental health. We’re leading the fight for a future where all young minds are supported and empowered, whatever the challenges
Tel: 0808 8025544 (parents helpline)
Text: YM to 85258 (If you need urgent help text )
4. LIFE SKILLS
Life skills training is provided for Academy players, to support players to develop skills to become self-sufficient and independent, in both their general lives and in dealing with the specific demands of being a professional footballer.
The Academy incorporates life skills training into all the work we do, specifically focusing on: Social skills, discipline, respect, personal control, organisation and leadership. These skills are incorporated into the football and coaching curriculum and are supplemented by a comprehensive programme of lifestyle seminars, workshops and experiences.
Currently the range of seminars and workshops delivered include: Equality, diversity and inclusion, nutrition, concussion awareness, mental and emotional wellbeing, careers advice, psychology, financial management, use of social media, anti-doping, gambling, corruption and integrity.
5. PARTICIPANT VOICE
The Duty of Care in Sport (2016), an independent report to government, led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson identifies that “Participants are at the heart of sport, and it can be valuable to get their unique perspective on decisions and issues. The UK Sport and Sport England governance code stresses the importance of identifying, listening to and meaningfully considering the views of stakeholders, and athletes are obviously an important group that need to be considered in this context”.
Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) enshrines the right of all children and young people to say what they think should happen and to have their opinions taken into account when adults are making decisions that affect them.
The Academy Participant Voice Strategy has been developed to ensure that players have the opportunity to be involved, to know they are listened to and that their views are valued.
The Academy Player Voice Strategy includes:
- 12 weekly Player and Parent Council forums;
- Annual Player and Parent Voice Surveys;
- Wellbeing Questionnaires (u18’s only);
- Player participation through the 6/12 weekly player reviews and bi-annual assessments;
- Player participation in the process of setting / developing their own Individual Development Plans (ILP’s);
Staff at the Academy value the importance of encouraging player involvement, decision making and ensuring that players are listened to and that their views are valued.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion