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McGinn head injury ‘a concern’ for Headway

Wed 22 Sep 2021

Brain injury charity Headway has reiterated its call for football to introduce temporary concussion substitutes following an incident involving Aston Villa’s John McGinn in a game against Everton at the weekend.

McGinn clashed heads with Everton defender Michael Keane in the seventh minute of the match at Villa Park. He was treated on the pitch by the medical team before being cleared to continue.

The player required further attention by the Aston Villa medical team in the 19th minute after going down on his haunches despite no contact with any other player. Again, he was cleared to continue.

A third intervention by the medical team followed in the 38th minute after McGinn hit the floor following a challenge by Everton’s Demarai Gray after McGinn himself signalled to referee Craig Pawson that he needed help. He was then substituted under the permanent concussion substitutions rule.

headwayuk · Headway cited as John McGinn concussion discussed on TalkSport

“The way in which this incident played out does not look good,” said Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association.

“Here you have a player who sustained a clear blow to the head after just six minutes. Around 30 minutes later, the player himself is asking to be removed because, according to his own manager, he felt dizzy – a clear sign of concussion.

“Medics face an almost impossible job in assessing players for suspected concussion in just a few minutes while on the pitch among a cacophony of noise generated by 40,000 fans and under the scrutiny of television cameras.

“The added pressure of having to make a decision about whether or not to permanently replace the player – particularly after just six minutes – makes their job even harder.

“If the option of a temporary concussion substitute had been made available to them, they would have had the chance to conduct a longer, more considered assessment of the player in the quiet confines of the treatment or dressing room.

“The risk of playing on after sustaining a concussion is that a secondary blow to the head can exacerbate the initial injury to the brain. Players should not put themselves, or be allowed to be, at such risk.

“Much more needs to be done to educate all involved in the sport on why we repeatedly call for an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach to head injuries. We cannot afford to wait for a tragedy before the message sinks in.”

The charity was also concerned about the example such incidents set for junior and grassroots sport.

“Public awareness of concussion is increasing,” said Peter McCabe. “But when people see incidents like this they understandably ask ‘why should we take an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach if elite athletes don’t?’

“Comments on social media such as ‘John McGinn has genuinely just played 30 odd minutes of football concussed’ and ‘Why on earth was John McGinn allowed to continue? He should've been taken off immediately’ demonstrate the responsibility of clubs to take a safety-first approach.

“Surely it’s time that the rules were changed to help them do just that.”
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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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