Posted on September 16, 2017

At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira collapsed on the field after receiving a blow to the head in their match against England, Argentina’s Javier Mascherano suffered a head injury at the semi-final against Netherlands, and German midfielder Christoph Kramer sustained a head injury during their World Cup final against Argentina, as a result of which he couldn’t remember most of the game, according to statements he made to Sports Illustrated.

These are just a few of the renowned cases where coaches have allowed players to return to the field of play without properly checking for any signs of brain injuries. This has prompted international bodies, including FIFA and the English Premier League, to revise their protocol regarding brain-sustained injury, particularly concussion. Aspetar – the orthopaedic sports medicine hospital in Qatar – organised the first concussion symposium in the Middle East, titled ‘Aspetar Sport Related Concussion Workshop for Healthcare Providers’ on Thursday, 14 September. The workshop tackled the latest issues related to concussion and offered comprehensive training to healthcare providers on Aspetar’s protocol to help identify and treat concussion injuries in sports, on and off the field.

Concussion is a traumatic brain injury following direct contact or sudden acceleration and deceleration of the brain inside the skull. Contrary to popular belief, concussions injuries are not always a result of a blow to the head. Such injuries could be caused by a direct hit anywhere in the body if it transmits an impulsive force to the head. Concussions occur across all sports, with multiple studies reporting that the highest incidence rates happen in American football, hockey, rugby, soccer and basketball. The conversation around concussion in recent years has been mostly focused on aggressive and physical sports such as American Football and Hockey, with much of the research around it being conducted in the US. However, less is discussed or studied about the prevalence of concussion-related injuries on Association football players and Olympic athletes outside of the US, and even less focuses on athletes in the Middle East region.

Speaking about the topic Dr. Scott Gillogly, Chief Medical Officer at Aspetar, said: “Aspetar recognises the importance of proper concussion care to prevent serious complications among athletes, such as second-impact syndrome, post-concussion syndrome and the possible association with the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Concussion signs are not always easily identifiable. In this regard, healthcare providers and team doctors play an essential role in protecting athletes and only allow safe return to play under universally accepted guidelines. These protocols were discussed in the workshop and we hope that it equipped healthcare providers in Qatar with the necessary knowledge and tools so they’re prepared to deal with these situations on the field.”

The workshop drew on the expertise of Aspetar’s staff in the field of sports medicine to offer a range of concussion-related topics and its implications on athletes in Qatar particularly, and worldwide generally. These included introductory sessions on concussion management, neuropsychological aspects and physiotherapist treatment of concussion, on-field recognition and removal steps, field side assessment, computerised neurocognitive testing, concussion monitoring and referral, return-to-play post-concussion, as well as ethical and legal issues surrounding it. The workshop was organised by the Aspetar Sport Related Concussion Programme, a comprehensive concussion management programme offering evidence-based concussion care for athletes everywhere, particularly locally. 

Aspetar collaborates with the Concussion in Sport Group (CiSG), the authors of the consensus statement and the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT), as well as with UK-based Elite Sport Concussion Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) Clinic at the Institute for Sport, Exercise and Health (ISEH), and Weill-Cornell Medical College in Qatar. In addition to being the region’s leading orthopedic and sports medicine hospital, Aspetar is a Weill Cornell Medical College Qatar teaching hospital. It has also been accredited by the Gulf Cooperation Council as a specialist hospital for the region, and by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an IOC Research Centre for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health, and by the Federation Internationale the Football Association (FIFA) as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence.