Dementia in football: Scottish team doctor urges temporary subs for concussion

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'Suddenly there was a blackout' - Craigan recalls head knock

The co-author of research into dementia in football says he is "hopeful" the sport will bring in rugby-style temporary substitutions for concussion.

The proposal will be discussed by the International Football Association Board on Wednesday in Zurich.

Glasgow University research found ex- footballers were three and a half times more likely to die of dementia.

Dr John MacLean, Scottish FA chief medical consultant, also urged steps to reduce "heading load on young players".

MacLean is part of the Uefa medical committee which has put forward the temporary substitutions proposal.

Under current protocol, games are stopped for three minutes to allow assessment of suspected concussion by medical staff. If further treatment is required, the player has to leave the field.

MacLean is a "massive advocate" of head injury substitutions.

"That is going to the International Board and I would be hopeful in the relatively near future the laws of the game will be changed to include that," MacLean told BBC Scotland.

"That will allow hopefully a 10-minute period with a free substitution, as rugby does, that gives the medical staff the opportunity to assess that player in the quiet of the dressing room, without the manager or referee trying to hound the medical team off the pitch.

"Only 10% of concussions and head injuries involved loss of consciousness, so it's a relatively small percentage.

"Any player who has been knocked out should be removed from the game, no matter what age."

MacLean, who also serves as Scotland's national teams doctor, admits more research is required into the effects of heading the ball.

"Until we know the real place of heading, it would be wrong of us to say let's wait for another 10 years until this study is done," he added.

"Through work with the Scottish FA and Uefa, what we have started to do is put together some sensible guidelines. Some simple things like limiting heading training for young players, perhaps to one session per week to allow the brain to recover."

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