Baseline Screening

To take an increasingly professional approach to dealing with head injuries and reduce the resulting risks for players, baseline screening was introduced as a mandatory requirement for the players of all 36 clubs of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 from the start of the 2019-20 season. In doing so, DFL followed a recommendation of the medical commission of the German Football Association (DFB).

During the assessment of an acute head injury, team doctors working within football are faced with the question of whether the injury has resulted in a deviation from the “norm” in terms of the health of the affected player. Baseline screening is helpful in such cases. The basis of the neurological screening that is performed before the start of each season as part of the annual examination to determine the player’s current medical status – in other words, the baseline – comprises neurological and neuropsychological tests complying with SCAT5 (SCAT = Sport Concussion Assessment Tool) as a minimum.

These tests examine the various sub-areas of brain function, including properties such as balance and memory. Deviations from the baseline established prior to a season help to make a diagnosis and decide whether an affected player should return to the pitch. Athletes should be brought back into play only when their test results correspond to the baseline.