Telling players they’re Pele after a concussion doesn’t cut it

Tom Taiwo picked up a head knock versus Rangers but recovered in time for the Scottish Cup match a week later
Tom Taiwo picked up a head knock versus Rangers but recovered in time for the Scottish Cup match a week later
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Kris Robertson reckons it’s rare to be treating so many head-knocks in such a short space of time.

For the second week in a row he was called upon to assist one of the Falkirk players for a heavy bang on the head. Last week was Tom Taiwo. This week it’s Luke Leahy.

I always think of the wrestler Bret Hart. He had chronic concussion and it ended his career

Kris Robertson

And with studies into concussion showing it is a major concern for sportsmen and women, there are specific procedures in place for treating head knocks and concussions.

It’s no longer a case of ‘tell him he’s Pele’ and pushing a player back onto the pitch as the old football myth goes.

“Any suspicion of concussion and the player is taken off – there are no chances taken,” explained Robertson, who was Arbroath physio before joining the Bairns in 2013.

“We ask them questions like who they are playing against and what the score is – sometimes they might not know but you can tell from their reaction how well they are.”

Both players who were knocked in consecutive weeks are believed to be improving – Taiwo recovered from his collision with Kyle Hutton sufficiently enough to play an important role in the Scottish Cup quarter final win. But that match saw Leahy carried off after a collision with Peter Grant late on.

The left-back is now subject to the same recovery procedures applied to his team-mate the week before.

“We carry out a multi-phased assessment,” Robertson added. “It is a series of tests before each exercise they carry out at training which gradually increases in intensity in phases.

“If they fail one of the steps they move back to the previous one until they have covered all five assessments.

“That means that some players’ recovery periods can be five days. Others can be two to three weeks.”

Concussions are a major issue in modern sport and subject of multi-million dollar law suits involving some high-profile American sports stars.

Earlier this season it was even suggested in a university paper that football players under-12 do not head a ball to avoid the complications of the condition.

Research is being carried out by FIFA, the International Hockey Federation and the IOC among others into the SCAT-3 system – a standardised concussion test to further knowledge of the condition. As detailed, it is a major issue in modern-day sport.

“What you are looking to avoid is chronic concussion where those affected suffer the concussion symptoms – such as, but not limited to - headache; haziness; confusion; dizziness frequently for the slightest bump.

“I always think of the wrestler Bret Hart. He had chronic concussion and it ended his career. That’s how serious it is and how important careful treatment is.”