The Need for Indpendent Evaluators on NFL Sidelines

20 Oct

We have discussed the NFL policy on concussions from preseason until last week when we discussed the apparent “dirt in the eye” issue that Vick dealt with.  We have even delved into some of the concerns and issues that face team medical staff’s when dealing with injuries, especially with high-profile athletes;

This has been a major issue in all professional sports; who pulls the most weight?  The athlete, coach, agent, owner or medical staff.  I would like to think that the organization would hire very competent medical staff’s (except some “team doctors” actually pay for the privilege), that would make decisions based upon safety.  I do know the AT’s do get a check from the organization so if they are hired by the club then shouldn’t they be listened to?  I mean, coaches are hired to make play calls and players are hired to run said plays, do the organizations meddle in their business (see Jerry Jones).  I would expect that teams would allow the AT’s and doctors to do what is right, and with that hope that the medical teams forgo score/importance and be proactive.

There was a specific line in the most recent NFL memo that sparked the above comment from me; “the NFL is telling medical staffs that they have the authority to order a player to the locker room whether he wants to go or not.”  Yes that was in the memo to all the teams and we have yet to see that with any high-profile or “star” player.  Which brings us to the topic at hand; neutral evaluators of the concussive injury.

There have been two higher profile journalists that have proposed some sort of mechanism of independence; Will Carroll and now Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk;

The problem arises from the absence of independent neurologists at games.  “The team medical staff examines players during games,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via email.  “The team neurologist is not required to attend games.”

It’s arguably more important to have truly independent neurologists available during games, when players possibly can get back on the field despite suffering a possible concussion.

The NFL needs to take action on this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and it is an easy fix.  But here is even a more novel idea, why don’t you employ a less expensive, yet as good as a doctor in concussion evaluation, solution.  Independent athletic trainers for concussion evaluation ONLY.  Yes a MD or PsyD carry more credentials but the ATC understands the dynamics of what is happening in the “game situation” and can be sensitive to the player and team at the same time while performing the much-needed task.

Thanks to Florio and Carroll for taking up this important issue.

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One Response to “The Need for Indpendent Evaluators on NFL Sidelines”

  1. Barrett November 15, 2011 at 10:58 #

    why wouldn’t they use testing equipment like Equilibrate in the NFL? that is objective instead of subjective, like the staff that might be swayed by coaches, etc.

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