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Football doctors learn crucial knowledge through UEFA

The UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme (FDEP) is proving to be an invaluable source of up-to-date knowledge and expertise for doctors and experts working in football across Europe.

A practical treatment session at the Rome workshop
A practical treatment session at the Rome workshop ©UEFA

UEFA's Football Doctor Education Programme (FDEP) – which is giving vital support to doctors and experts working in the football medical sector – is continuing to evolve and keep pace with the evolution of this crucial area of the game.

An FDEP workshop in Rome, attended by 52 doctors, consolidated the outstanding work that has been carried out over the years in transmitting medical knowledge that is essential in treating football-related injuries.

The FDEP has now moved into a new cycle this season. The programme is being divided into three workshops, which were launched in 2011. The workshops focus on three main topics – trauma and medical emergencies on the pitch; injury diagnostic and treatment; and protecting the player.

One doctor from each of UEFA's 55 member associations is invited to attend a workshop. The doctor undertakes a practical and written assessment at the end of the workshop, in order to assess the skills that he/she has acquired.

If the doctor passes the assessment successfully, he/she is granted a 'cascading pass', which enables him/her to organise the same workshop at national level. This means that they are spreading knowledge they have gained among their football doctor colleagues.

Participants at the workshop
Participants at the workshop©UEFA

The Rome workshop – led by Dr Jonathan Gordon and his faculty from the Promote Medical Group in Scotland – dealt with trauma and emergency medical treatment on the field, and was divided into two groups. One group comprised doctors that had previously attended the trauma/on-field medical emergencies workshop, and who had 'cascaded' the workshop at national level. The second workshop was composed of doctors who either had not yet 'cascaded' the workshop at national level, or newly-appointed doctors working at national associations who did not previously attend the workshop.

The content for doctors in the first group mainly focused on teaching aspects, while the content for participants in the second group centred on skills training. Doctors in the second group also received a special 'cascading' instruction session on the last day, which gave them an insight into how best to organise a workshop at national level.

"Emergency skills are vital for the football doctor," said Dr Gordon, "and are extremely difficult to handle in high-pressure situations inside a stadium with cameras and a full stadium observing your every move.

"The Rome workshop will enable doctors to practise their skills regularly, and help them to become more confident and systematic."

The chairman of UEFA's Medical Committee, Dr Michel D'Hooghe, is convinced about the enduring value of the Football Doctor Education Programme, especially as it continues to develop in the future. "The FDEP is a fantastic programme," he said, "which is raising medical standards across Europe.

"Football doctors will receive high-level education biannually in trauma and medical emergencies, and every four years in injury diagnosis and treatment, as well as on general topics such as nutrition, psychology and rehabilitation structures."

John MacLean, a member of the UEFA Medical Committee and tutor at previous FDEP workshops, concurred with Dr D'Hooghe's view: "The real beauty of the programme is its 'cascading element', which enables doctors that attended workshops to pass on their knowledge at national level.

"This means that if every doctor teaches at least ten other doctors at national level," he added, "we would be training over 500 football doctors across Europe."

Participants at the Rome event agreed that they had learned significant new elements not only for their own jobs, but also to pass on to fellow doctors and experts in their own countries.

"This course was completely different from the previous versions," said Dr Ecki Hermann (Liechtenstein). "In past editions we learned about basic life support and emergency skills on the pitch, which is quite different from my day to day job as a GP. This year's workshop focused on my teaching skills, focusing on how best to 'cascade' the information at national level."

"The FDEP is a great platform for all football doctors in Europe," added Dr Tomislav Vlahović (Croatia). "The teaching aspect of this year's course was very unique – giving us great advice and teaching techniques for ‘cascading’ the workshop on a national basis."

"The FDEP provides a perfect opportunity to meet and exchange with other football doctors on our experience in the specific field of football medicine," was the viewpoint of Dr Daniel McKean (Malta).

The new cycle will see the trauma/on-field medical emergencies workshop held every second year, while the workshops in the other two areas will alternate every two years.

UEFA is now finalising the organisation of the injury diagnostic/treatment workshop to take place in the 2019/20 season.

In addition, UEFA also plans to update its Encyclopaedia of Football Medicine, a three-volume series authored by renowned UEFA medical specialists in the medical care of football players, and sourced from the course materials used in UEFA's Doctor Education Programme.

The three volumes can be ordered either from Amazon or the Thieme Publishing House official website.