Knowledge sharing at DFL and NFL Medical Conference

Participants of the conference at the DFB Campus during the presentation by Dr. Robb Rehberg, NFL, on the topic of video recognition and spotting of injuries in the NFL.
Photo: DFL/Witters/Jörg Halisch

10 November 2023 – The DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga and National Football League (NFL) Medical Conference brought together more than 50 medical professionals from the two league organisations, as well as from DFL clubs and the German Football Association (DFB) to share and discuss valuable insights in the field of sports medicine. The conference, held at the DFB campus in Frankfurt, coincided with the two NFL International Series games also taking place in Frankfurt.

The Medical Conference opened with introductions by Prof. Dr. Tim Meyer, head of the DFL working group „Medicine in Professional Football”, and Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer. The conference covered topics including experience gained from the COVID-19 pandemic, optimal prevention and treatment of orthopaedic injuries, such as ACL sprains, dealing with environmental conditions and related heat exposure, cardiac emergencies, medical management of head injuries, and ways to support the mental wellness of professional athletes. The role of medical personnel at both the NFL and DFL clubs was also discussed.

On the important topic of head injury reduction, the NFL presented the NFL Gameday Concussion Diagnosis and Return to Play Protocol, which was developed in 2011 and is updated annually. The NFL also discussed ongoing efforts to drive innovation in helmet safety through data collection and collaboration to spur the development of better performing helmets. Meanwhile, the DFL highlighted the „DFL Protocol on Head Injuries.“ The protocol was signed by all Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs in spring 2023 and is intended to raise awareness of how to properly deal with head injuries. It includes key preventative aspects such as neurological baseline screening, medical review systems, training for players and coaches on how to deal with head injuries during a match and guidelines for returning to training sessions and matches after a concussion.

The Medical Conference provided a special opportunity for the participants to promote collaboration in sports medicine among professionals dedicated to improving the health and safety of professional athletes. The conference was held as part of the collaboration agreement between the DFL and the NFL, signed in September 2022. The aim of the partnership is to facilitate more knowledge and experience sharing between the two leagues. The organisations have successfully collaborated previously, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Events such as the Medical Conference are intended to strengthen this partnership in the long term.