Our American readers are probably very familiar with Taylor Twellman and his campaign to bring greater attention to concussions in the sport of football, and sports in general. For readers in England and other countries, he might not be a household name.
Twellman played had a short stint with TSV 1860 München II before spending eight season in MLS with the New England Revolution. Twellman now works as a commentator for ESPN. His career was ended by a misdiagnosed concussion, effects of which he still suffers from today.
Thanks in part to his efforts with his ThinkTaylor organization, and the efforts of many others, there's an increased awareness to the effects of concussion on athletes. Not everyone agrees with Twellman, not every feels that concussion are something we should be worrying about, but there's increasing evidence that it's a serious medical issue that has been damaging the lives of athletes for years. It honestly feels like we're just starting to catch-up on giving this issue the attention it needs.
In the wake of Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois taking a thigh to the side of the head in their win over Arsenal that appeared to knock him out cold for several seconds, Twellman has written a story posted in the Guardian that once again addresses the need for increased awareness and in-game medical supervision for head injuries.
From my calculations, Chelsea's medical staff looked at Courtois from somewhere between 56 and 66 seconds on the pitch before clearing him to carry on. That is not enough, I don't care who you are. They have brought in a neutral "tunnel" doctor to assist the team doctor, and that is a start. But did that independent doctor have access to a TV showing all the replay angles? Because any doctor in his or her right mind would watch that video and say, "Courtois has a suspected concussion. He needs to come off immediately".
Twellman is a controversial figure in the United States soccer community for reasons that are often frustrating to me. He's an honest and opinionated commentator. He says what he's thinking, he rarely pulls punches, and for some reason, people get bent out of shape a lot about this. He's frequently insulted on social media -- where's he very active -- and is a lightning rod for criticism. It's frustrating because people so often call for their commentators to be more interesting and when one is actually interesting, people start complaining.
Anyway, Twellman's work to bring attention to concussions is important work, even if you don't agree with how he goes about it. It's something that's not going to go away anytime soon because these a fairly common injuries and the damage they do, especially in terms of cumulative damage, is very real.
Some fans don't want to hear about it. Many call for players to just "though it out" or "suck it up" and play on. Most of them have never suffered a concussion I expect, but trust me, it only takes one to realize the effect it can have on you. Even a seemingly innocuous bump to the head can scramble your brain for a day or two.
Our boss Roberto Martinez spoke out in favor of new rules to help protect players who suffer heads injuries last season after Hugo Lloris was knocked out in a match between Everton and Spurs. So did Tim Howard after seeing Lloris injured.
So I'm curious what you all think about concussions in the sport and how teams and the FA deal with them.