The post-match clash between Premier League managers, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, after Chelsea dominated the scoreboard with their 2-0 defeat over Arsenal was not the only match incident. Chelsea goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, was removed from the game in the 24th minute, 15 minutes after he appeared to be momentarily knocked out after clashing with Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez.
Courtois took a heavy blow to the head when he collided with Sánchez and, although it was unclear whether Courtois did actually lose consciousness, he was seen to be motionless on the ground while being assessed by the Chelsea medical staff. An assessment of his injuries took place within just 56 seconds, after which the medical staff gave him the all clear to return to the pitch.
New rules on how head injuries are assessed have been introduced to the Premier League this season. Any player suffering a head injury must leave the pitch and undergo an assessment by the club doctor. It will then be a decision for the doctor to determine whether a player is capable of continuing. Courtois was substituted some 15 minutes later after blood was seen trickling from his ear. Medical staff have defended their actions against claims that they did not carry out sufficient checks before giving the go ahead to play on. After his removal from the game, Courtois was taken to hospital for further assessment and observation.
Charlene McAuliffe, case manager in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, comments: “When the new rules were introduced by the Premier League at the start of the season it was reassuring to see that steps were being taken to protect players from these types of incidences and ensure they were taken seriously. Concussion is an evolving injury with symptoms that may not immediately present themselves so it is worrying to see reports that question the quality of the assessment carried out on Mr Courtois. If an individual is not properly assessed by a medical professional the consequences can be severe. If there has been a confirmed or suspected period of loss of consciousness then that player should be taken off the pitch immediately, rather than be allowed to play-on and see what happens. Health must come first and the proper assessment and management of head injuries must be the priority.”