Concussions and the NWSL

Discussion in 'NWSL' started by cpthomas, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm starting this thread with the idea it could get some discussion from time to time as we see how the NWSL responds to head injuries. The NWSL Rules and Regulations include detailed rules about hydration breaks, but do not include anything on concussions. If the NWSL has a concussion protocol outside the Rules and Regulations, it will be great if someone can post it.

    I've been interested in how sports deal with concussions for a long time, due to my having coached high school athletes for about 20 years and having coached and managed rec and competitive young girls' soccer teams, and also due to experiences within my family. I'm well versed in the concussion protocols that are supposed to be used in all high school sports and USSF-governed youth soccer. But, I've also seen how possible concussions are handled (not handled) in college and professional soccer. So, I'm interested in others' experience and thinking on the subject and hope some of you with knowledge or thoughts on this will post here.

    What immediately got me thinking about a thread here was what happened with Rose Lavelle in last Sunday's game against the Portland Thorns. Rose took a ball directly in the head from what was supposed to be a long serve from Emily Sonnett into the box from right around mid-field. Rose was about 5 to 10 yards from Sonnett, and she went right to the ground. She was on the ground for quite a while, and intially was not able to get up when she tried, sort of wobbling and having to go back to the ground for a while. When she was able to get up, she walked off the field, but looked like she wasn't able to walk in a straight line without help. (This all happened directly in front of where I was sitting in the stands.) Rose stayed off the field for a bit and then clearly was lobbying to get back into the game. I heard that she was demonstrating that she could stand on one foot as a way to show she could go back in.

    All of my training said, as soon as I saw how wobbly she was, that she had to be out for the rest of the game. But, she apparently prevailed and neither whatever medical personnel were checking her out nor her coach said, "No."

    This seemed ridiculous to me and extremely irresponsible and dangerous.

    Did anyone else see/have thoughts about this?
     
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  2. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Following up on the preceding thread, for tonight's Spirit v Royals game, Rose Lavelle is listed on the injury report as "Questionable ... (General Head)". Say what? "General Head"? That's one I've never seen or heard before. They don't want to say "concussion" because if they do, they'll have admitted that they sent a player with a concussion back into a game? Or because they don't want to be forced to have her go through the concussion protocol return to play regime, which could put her out for a while? This seems nuts to me -- but then, I'm not a doctor. I know she exhibited concussion symptoms, but I'm not able to diagnose whether she actually suffered a concussion. But questionable for "General Head"?
     
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  3. BlueCrimson

    BlueCrimson Member+

    North Carolina Courage
    United States
    Nov 21, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Club:
    Sydney FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The fact that Lavelle was allowed to return after that hit was inexcusable. I get that she's an important player for the Spirit, and every player wants to play as much as they can, but common sense and the wellbeing of the player should always prevail.

    If Riley ever did that to a Courage player, I would be calling for him to be fired immediately.
     
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  4. McSkillz

    McSkillz Member+

    UCLA Bruins
    United States
    Nov 22, 2014
    Los Angeles
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Inexcusable. They need to call it what it is, a concussion. I thought the NWSL did have a protocol? I remember many moons ago, when NWSL was in its 1st or 2nd season, Abby Wambach took a ball to the head accidentally from another player blasting it and the frightening thing was Abby got up and then collapsed again. I thought after that incident, they addressed concussion protocol but maybe I'm mistaken.
     
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  5. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I note that Lavelle not only did not play for the Spirit tonight, she wasn't on the game roster. That is good. That they had her continue playing last weekend is very bad. Whoever cleared her to go back in the game needs a very serious talking to.

    I also note that Morgan apparently took a head shot tonight and they took her out of the game.

    I truly hope they both are able to fully recover. "General Head" injuries must be responded to properly.
     
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  6. Cliveworshipper

    Cliveworshipper Member+

    Dec 3, 2006
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  7. McSkillz

    McSkillz Member+

    UCLA Bruins
    United States
    Nov 22, 2014
    Los Angeles
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Oh my. That makes zero sense and makes me not like the league anymore...wow.
     
  8. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'd really like to see the NWSL concussion protocol before drawing conclusions about it. The "go head the ball 15 times a day for three days" sounds wierd enough to me to make me wonder whether it's in the protocol or came from somewhere else. I've looked for the protocol on-line but haven't been able to find it.
     
  9. lil_one

    lil_one Member+

    Nov 26, 2013
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Whoever posted this blog post lost credibility with this sentence: "As frame of reference for those non-soccer lovers out there, I started playing soccer when I was six years old and continued through college, I sincerely doubt I’ve hit 45 headers in my entire life." For reference, I also played from about the age of 6 and through college, and probably did 45 headers in one practice on multiple occasions when focused on heading. In college, the warmup alone had us doing about 20 headers. I would guess I averaged around 5 headers per match so easily more than 45 a season (and I'm short and was not a prolific header). I'm not saying that that much heading is good or bad, just that his sentence doesn't reflect reality.

    Once cleared for return to play by a medical professional (which is presumably when this test would take place, and not while the player has a concussion; but we're not even sure that this test does happen as NWSL protocol since this post reports hearsay), a player would need to show that they are fully ready to return to play. You've got to do that somehow.

    I've seen it reported that NWSL follows US Soccer's concussion protocol, which has info here: https://www.recognizetorecover.org/head-and-brain#concussions
    Of course, they may not follow it exactly, but I'd expect that the protocol is similar.
     
  10. Cliveworshipper

    Cliveworshipper Member+

    Dec 3, 2006

    I saw the protocol they used on Lavelle during the Portland match. If they followed the us soccer protocol, it was a ‘ unique implementation’ of it. Clearly evident from across the pitch were these symptoms

    • Unsteadiness/loss of balance

    • Feeling “dinged” or stunned or “dazed”


    There is no way that kid should have been allowed on the pitch.

    And the writer pointing out the paucity of headers in his/her career may have shown an age bias. I played in an era when the ball was often waterlogged leather in the fall with laces on it that could cut. Nobody was eager to head that thing.
    https://i26.servimg.com/u/f26/11/36/05/99/1b539010.jpg
    Clive Charles once posited “ who would want to hit that?” LOL
     
  11. McSkillz

    McSkillz Member+

    UCLA Bruins
    United States
    Nov 22, 2014
    Los Angeles
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    oldsoccerball.jpg
    I played soccer in the mid-90s when soccer balls looked like this and trust me, nobody wanted to head those balls nor even kick them.
     
  12. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Lavelle now is listed as not available for this weekend's Spirit game due to "General Head." I take this as meaning the same thing as is the case for Alex Morgan, which the Pride list as "Concussion Protocol." So, as was seemed obvious at the Thorns/Spirit game, Lavelle appears to have suffered a concussion -- yet was put back in the game.

    Something not yet well understood is that the brain takes a ton of energy to repair itself. If an athlete keeps playing while concussed -- or does homework, takes tests, etc. -- this takes energy away from the repair job and can make the repair take longer/be less effective. Thus by playing Lavelle while concussed, the Spirit may have made her prognosis and timeline for recovery worse.
     
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  13. CoachJon

    CoachJon Member+

    Feb 1, 2006
    Rochester, NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Thanks @cpthomas for starting this thread. When I saw they were planning on putting Rose back in the game I was aghast, appalled, and ultimately apoplectic when she did go in. DOESN'T ANYONE WANT TO PROTECT THESE PLAYERS? And deciding to have Alex sit up when apparently she could have had a neck injury was probably negligent. Neck brace and back board are not overkill for a human's vertebrae and spinal chord, let alone a $ Million a year athlete. There's too much ass-covering - "I asked her what her name was, and the year, and she didn't pass out when i waggled my finger in front of her eyes, so it is OK for her to play - according to the guidelines."
    Common sense and parenthood declares: Rose was knocked silly. Take her out of the damn game and get her to a doctor!
     
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  14. Cliveworshipper

    Cliveworshipper Member+

    Dec 3, 2006
    There were lots of people sitting around me who were aghast they let her back in. The worst part was that she was insisting she could play, and they knew better. You never let the athlete cloud your judgement about stuff like that.
     
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  15. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Actually joined the forum to comment on this because I was so disgusted when it happened, and how easily Lavelle was allowed back on the pitch when she should've been pulled out for the night, and evaluated more thoroughly. Should we be petitioning the NWSL to allow concussion subs in addition to the three?
     
  16. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Here's an article from The Equalizer on the Lavelle and Morgan head injuries: https://equalizersoccer.com/2019/08/28/nwsl-concussion-policy-rose-lavelle-return-to-play/. The NWSL's description of this is a bunch of gobbledy gook. What I find astounding is that there seems to be confusion over whether Lavelle had concussion symptoms. If she's wobbly on her feet, which she was when she tried to get up and then had to sit back down due to the wobbliness, she is showing concussion symptoms. It doesn't mean she's had a concussion, but they're definitely concussion symptoms. The article reads like the NWSL is trying to cover up a mess up.
     
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  17. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Washington Post also ran an article the other day describing Lavelle's evaluation after the game, and it's terrifying. They said she was checked for fracturing a bone around her ear, and had "concussion symptoms" in the following days. Which is way worse than how the Spirit had been presenting it with that "general head" political nonsense.

    Edit: Just noticed that all that was in the article you posted. Still shocking that a pro league would let this happen
     

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  18. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    So, Lavelle and Morgan are officially out for tomorrow as well. Hoping it's just precautionary and there's no lasting damage to either one... (I did see Lavelle training in photos last week and today though, while being overseen by one of the medical staff members)
     
  19. cpthomas

    cpthomas BigSoccer Supporter

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Jan 10, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    For the protocol I know about, a player returning from a concussion goes through several days of progressively more "real" practice. The rule is, if she goes through a day and has recurring symptoms, then she has to start over. Or, for those with baselines such as I believe the NWSL players have, she must return to baseline before she can play. Not having been able to get through either of these processes could explain Lavelle's having practiced last week but being ruled out this week. I'm guessing Washington is under the microscope on this one after their error in letting her return to play against the Thorns.
     
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  20. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ok, good. I hope that's what the current US protocol is. Thanks :). I wish the NWSL was more transparent with theirs.
    And rightfully so re: that blunder. I just hope our short attention span for this kind of controversy doesn't lead to a repeat of that happening
     
  21. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    So, hypothetically speaking, if I were to create a change.org petition to send to the NWSL re: concussion protocol, what should it say and how many signatures would you require? Any suggestions for terms of the ideal protocol from coaches - past or present - on this thread are welcome :)
     
  22. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The NWSL injury site is still calling Lavelle's injury a "general head" and she's out for this week. Does that mean she's out of NWSL concussion protocol (and her condition is upgraded) or is it just more public relations gobblygook?

    http://www.nwslsoccer.com/news/injuries

    (Or is it because it's nearly been a month and is now considered PCS?)
     
  23. BlueCrimson

    BlueCrimson Member+

    North Carolina Courage
    United States
    Nov 21, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Club:
    Sydney FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Lavelle is still out because US Soccer hasn't cleared her to play. US federation players fall under their auspices, not the NWSL.
     
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  24. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Thanks! I hadn't read the WaPost article from yesterday detailing that rule when I posted this. It scares me for the NWSL players who aren't national team players that they could come back too soon.
     
  25. jestoon

    jestoon New Member

    Portland Thorns
    United States
    Aug 26, 2019
    New Haven, CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

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