Aspetar and QSL announces new Joint Brain Health Action Plan

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To lead the way in concussion care in football, in the run up to the FIFA Football World Cup 2022, Aspetar has partnered with the Qatar football Association (QFA) and Qatar Stars League (QSL), to implement an evidence-based concussion programme in the QSL.

Aspetar, Orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital and Qatar Stars League (QSL) announced today a new joint action plan on understanding, promoting, and protecting brain health. The Concussion Management Programme in the QSL was announced at a virtual ceremony held Tuesday with the participation of representatives from Aspetar, Qatar Football Association and Qatar Stars League.

This new programme includes education on concussion care and information on the topic for players, management, and technical staff, including baseline testing of players, a concussion management and referral pathway, and specialised treatment options. It also provides a referral network of medical experts to provide evidence-based, best practice concussion care for QSL players, in the interest of player welfare.

Commenting on the concussion programme, Mr. Hani Taleb Ballan, CEO of QSL, said, “Concussion in sport has arguably become the hottest topic in sports medicine in decades. It seems that this interest by sports federations and medical staff management of head injuries, is entirely justified. Football is working together to try to build a more complete picture by supporting a variety of projects and this is what we are working for at QSL with Aspetar, this new joint action plan will further help to build our understanding of this complex injury across Qatar football”.

Dr Abdulaziz Jaham Al Kuwari, Aspetar CEO, said: “Aspetar is of the opinion that most adverse effects of concussion can be prevented by proper concussion care, starting with removing players with suspected concussion from play, even under difficult circumstances.  Aspetar and our partners at QSL are convinced of our duty to act in the interest of player welfare and safety. In doing so, we will also ensure fast and safe return to play after concussion.”

In football, former players with a history of repeated concussions have a higher prevalence of neurological and psychological maladies, including sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression. Only as recently as 2001 did a group of concussion experts form the Concussion in Sports Group (CISG) to investigate best practice and produce regular consensus statements on the correct management of sport related concussion.

Despite clear guidelines from the CISG, concussions are still ignored, under-recognised, or undertreated across the entire scope of sport, where blatant on-field mismanagement of concussion has occurred in front of world-wide audiences in many tournaments.  The situation has become so serious that concussion is the only sports injury for which management has been legislated in all 50 states of the USA and other countries.

Certain high-risk sports, such as rugby and ice-hockey, have taken the lead in prioritising concussion care in the interest of player safety and welfare.  Football (soccer) federations all over the world have also started to prioritise concussion care at various levels of the game, including at FIFA World Cup level.