New policy created by the Toronto Soccer Association and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital aims to improve the safety of youth soccer through education and concussion management strategies.
The Toronto Soccer Association (TSA) and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s concussion centre have launched a new, comprehensive concussion policy for the TSA’s 24,000 competitive and recreational youth soccer players, and their parents and coaches.
The policy includes protocols, procedures, documentation, and formalized training programs, specifically designed for youth soccer players to increase their safety during the game and off-the-field. It will be mandatory for the TSA’s 2500 competitive players and optional for those playing club controlled recreational soccer. It is available freely to any other soccer organization off the TSA website.
Under the new policy, any player with a suspected concussion is immediately removed from play and referred to a physician for diagnosis. If the player receives a concussion diagnosis, they will follow a gradual return to soccer protocol to ensure they recover safely and receive medical clearance by a physician before rejoining the game.
“The new concussion policy ensures that we, as healthcare professionals and everyone in the sports community, look after the health and safety of youth who participate in sports. This policy provides important education on what a concussion is and direction for what to do if you have one. It puts soccer players, parents, trainers, coaches, and the broader soccer community on the same page to best support kids and youth,” says Dr. Nick Reed, clinician scientist and co-director of Holland Bloorview’s concussion centre.
Importantly, the policy defines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in a youth soccer player’s life. Holland Bloorview’s concussion centre provided pre-season concussion and policy training for 150 head coaches and their club administrators. The hospital is also providing educational opportunities for head coaches to enhance understanding on how to best recognize and support the medical and rehabilitation management of concussion.
“Unfortunately, injuries and concussions can occur in sports, and by introducing a comprehensive new soccer concussion policy, we aim to get the players gradually and safely back to the game.” says Jacques Konig, vice president of the Toronto Soccer Association (TSA).