Premier League to trial saliva test for concussions

Simon Winter
In a landmark move, England’s Premier League is set to trial a saliva test that can be used to diagnose concussion.

The league is funding an scientific study to discover whether biomarkers in saliva can detect concussions in footballers.

The move is part of a joint action plan on brain health by the Premier League alongside the Football Association, EFL and Professional Footballers’ Association.

In a bid to protect footballers from the impact and effect of concussions, players will provide baseline swabs to begin with, followed by three further swabs at different junctures following a concussive injury.

A similar trial occurred involving elite male rugby union players in February earlier this year, when the results were described as “game-changing” and regarded as a major move towards using pitchside saliva tests to diagnose concussion.

“It is important that football has come together to work collaboratively on this issue,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said.

“With the help of experts, and alongside other sports with similar challenges, we want to ensure we have the right approach in place to protect the welfare of players.”

In addition, the FA will also form an alliance with the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby to give former footballers access to specialist services designed to manage brain health after retirement.

Current and former footballers and their families are being consulted on the action plan, with an updated version to be published before the start of next season in 2022.

The Premier League trialled the use of concussion substitutes back in February following concern over links between head injuries in football and dementia.

England 1966 World Cup winners Nobby Stiles and Jack Charlton, who both died last year, were diagnosed with dementia, while Sir Bobby Charlton’s family recently revealed he had been diagnosed with the same disease.

Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen explained in December how he had felt the effects of a concussion he sustained while playing for Tottenham for the following nine months.

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