Doctor education pays dividends

UEFA's Football Doctor Education Programme is giving doctors working in football throughout Europe crucial advice in the treatment of injured players.

Vital training in dealing with emergency on-field treatment
Vital training in dealing with emergency on-field treatment ©UEFA

Medical aspects of football are becoming more crucial than ever – and UEFA is ensuring that doctors working in the game are given expert training, thanks to its Football Doctor Education Programme (FDEP).

Emergency on-field medical treatment was the main topic on the agenda at the latest FDEP workshop in Barcelona, attended by 51 UEFA member association doctors .

The workshop focused in particular on the essential know-how that doctors must have to treat a player who has collapsed or is unconscious.

The 51 doctors were given invaluable training in fitting a collar, performing a log roll - a manoeuver used to move a person without flexing the spinal column - usage of an automated defibrillator, performing cardiac massage, and dealing with wounds, as well as head and face injuries. Group work included hands-on practical cases including real-life scenarios.

The sessions in Barcelona were led by Dr Johnny Gordon, author of the first volume of UEFA’s Encyclopedia of Football Medicine, who was joined by other members of his faculty in the United Kingdom. The encyclopedia was published by the Thieme Publishing house at the end of April, and can now be purchased on the Amazon and Thieme websites.

Prof. Anna Nordström – another contributor to the encyclopedia – was present in Barcelona to provide specialist knowledge on concussion issues, while UEFA Medical Committee chairman Dr Michel D’Hooghe came to Spain to contribute his vast experience to the discussions.

The doctors underwent a rigorous testing process at the end of the workshop to evaluate the skills and knowledge they had acquired – a unique aspect of the FDEP.

This evaluation is essential, because the doctors not only learn important skills at the workshop, but are also taught how to 'cascade' their own version of the course for doctors in their own country – thereby increasing overall knowledge and expertise.

The final assessment guarantees that only those workshop participants who demonstrate competence in the topic areas addressed are authorised to pass on those skills and knowledge to their peers at a ‘cascaded’ workshop.

UEFA is planning to stage its FDEP workshops on a more regular basis, to give even more doctors the opportunity to acquire the relevant expertise in emergency situations on the pitch.

In addition, every football doctor who attended the course will be linked on a common WhatsApp group to share and discuss their daily work.

Dr Gordon hailed UEFA for recognising the essential need to train doctors to give appropriate on-field emergency treatment.

“The course has highlighted the need for us all to be responsible in cascading this knowledge and set of simple life-saving skills to the medics working in our respective national associations,” he said.

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