Trust team doctors over concussion, says MLS medical chief

Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:23pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

BRIDGETOWN Barbados (Reuters) - FIFA's new plans for dealing with concussions have been criticized by some in the United States for not involving an independent medical inspection, but Major League Soccer's medical chief believes team doctors should be trusted.

The proposed protocol from FIFA states that when a suspected concussion occurs, the referee should stop the game for three minutes, allowing a team doctor to make an on-pitch assessment and decide if the player has a suspected concussion.

Under the plan, a referee would only allow the injured player to continue with the authorization of the team doctor.

But some campaigners have argued that an independent or neutral medical official should make the final call as a team doctor may be influenced by the team's short-term needs.

John Gallucci, medical coordinator for the MLS, told Reuters at the Soccerex Americas Forum on Tuesday that team doctors would not risk their careers by wrongly putting a player back into the game.

"I don't think there is any medical professional out there that would garner their license by saying that an athlete is not concussed and put them back on the pitch," said Gallucci.

"I think no matter how much money you throw out there nobody is going to want to lose their livelihood.

"Of course in sport there is always a component of concern but I think as medical professions are learning more and more research about the harmful effects of a concussion that's not treated appropriately, that we can take away that the medical community of soccer definitely are 'getting it'.   Continued...