Football must wake up to concussion issues, says ex-robin Parslow
FORMER Cheltenham Town defender Daniel Parslow says concussion protocol must change to avoid players’ safety being put at risk.
The 33-year-old missed the last three months of the season after suffering a blow to the side of his head in action for York City against Hereford in National League North on February 5 and he is still recovering.
“It looked innocuous at the time, but it turned out to be a hell of a lot more serious than that,” Parslow said.
“I had the bump and the physio came on and asked me my name and the score “I was then allowed to go back on, but I quickly realised something was seriously wrong.
“My balance was going and I was seeing double and I staggered down the tunnel at half-time.”
Parslow was observed by York’s physio and then taken to the bed at the back of the changing room, where the doctor told him he had delayed onset concussion and he was put through some standard memory recall tests.
“I had a severe headache and I felt sick, so I slowly showered and changed and the doctor came back in after the game and told me not to drive, so my wife picked me up,” he said.
“I’d broken my nose a few times and had a few split lips, but never had concussion before, but I was caught on a sensitive part of my head.”
Parslow was advised to rest, eat and sleep well and avoid watching television and that the symptoms should ease.
“My wife said I looked terrible so we decided to go to A&E,” he said.
“I saw a doctor who reiterated what the club doctor had said and that there was no bleed on the brain, so he sent me on my way.
“But I then had a tough few days. I had chronic headaches and light hurt, so all I could do really was lie down and shut my eyes in a dark room, it was horrendous.
“I couldn’t move really and I had strong migraines. The physio asked me how I was doing and I told him I was in a bad way, despite having 10 days of rest and the headaches were not shifting.”
The club doctor then advised Parslow to have a scan to rule out the possibility of a ‘slow bleed’ on the brain.
“I went to my GP at the local practice and the symptoms were so strong I had a CT scan at York Hospital, which confirmed there was no bleed,” he said.
“It was reassuring and I felt a bit better, but the headaches were still there and I’d gone three or three-and-a-half weeks without any exercise and obviously hadn’t kicked a ball.
“I went to see a neurosurgeon in Birmingham and underwent cognitive tests, which all came back okay, but the doctors didn’t have a baseline test to compare my results to in terms of memory recall and balance.
“In an ideal world every player would have those baseline tests, but it comes down to budgets and time, so clubs’ hands are tied.
“I was in the normal level for my demographic, but I failed on eyes and ears with the balance and vision tests.
“I was therefore a way away from returning to play and with six weeks of the season left, there was not enough time and I was ruled out for the season.
“It was not the news I wanted because my contract was up in the summer, but health had to come first so I followed the advice.”
Parslow feels he has turned a corner in recent weeks, with headaches less frequent and he has not been feeling as tired.
“I am not myself, but it’s that niggly last little bit now,” he said.
“I’ve stepped up my cardio work and started some resistance training, so I am moving in the right direction, and there has been no dizziness. “York are allowing me to use their facilities, but there is no deal for me next season so it’s a stressful time, but getting myself healthy has to come first.”
After going through such an ordeal, Parslow believes new procedures must be implemented.
“I know clubs have different finances, but players’ health needs to come first,” he said.
“At the moment, medics are often stabbing in the dark so in my view those baseline cognitive tests should be implemented immediately.
“I am not blaming my physio at all because he followed the protocol and the rules, but it needs changing from the top.
“Jan Vertonghen (for Spurs against Ajax in the Champions League semifinal) had a similar situation to me, but it has since transpired that he did not suffer concussion.
“But you can have a delayed onset of symptoms and medics need time to properly assess players, which is the case in rugby.
“Footballers have a couple of minutes with a physio running on and it’s not enough and in my case the symptoms came on later.
“You need to be examined by an expert and it’s hard because fans start to get restless when the game stops and often they assume you are feigning injury.
“But a temporary concussion sub would be a huge step forward. Teams may manipulate the situation and I am not sure how that could be stopped,