An average of at least one potential concussive event occurred per game during the 2016 UEFA European Championship; however, nearly three-quarters of the head collision incidents did not result in a medical assessment by sideline healthcare personnel, according to a review published today (Thursday) in the BMJ Open.
For the study, a team of trained observers, led by neurosurgeon Dr Michael Cusimano of St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, reviewed the 51 games of the tournament to determine if suspected concussions in elite footballers are medically assessed according to the International Conferences on Concussion in Sport consensus statement recommendations. They identified 69 potential concussive events (PCEs) involving 61 athletes, of which around 72.5 per cent of events were not medically assessed by sideline healthcare personnel. Of the PCEs that were not medically assessed, 88 per cent had two or more signs of concussion.
The authors noted a number of barriers which may contribute to weak implementation of sport-related concussion assessment protocols in football, including the high stakes of competitive sport and the rules of the game, which may pressure medical staff to ignore PCEs. They said the findings show there is an “urgent need to improve the assessment and management of players suspected of concussion”.