I only lead the story that way because this past weekend there have been two “interesting” situations involving potential concussions of football players, with ‘Arizona’ on the jersey.
Yesterday I posted about Matt Scott, University of Arizona QB (Dan Diamond also has a follow-up to his story here) and today after Monday Night Football Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals is under the microscope. I too was watching and was mystified at the handling of the situation. Watching on television you could clearly see a mechanism of injury that would predispose a player to a head injury, then as he rose to his feet – to this highly trained observer – he appeared gazed and “not all there”. Apparently I was not the only one to see it that way;
When he got up from the field picking grass out of his facemask and looking woozy, there were fewer questions about whether it was a dirty play by Brown—it wasn’t—than how much time Fitzgerald would miss due to a possible concussion.[...]
If he did in fact suffer a concussion, as at least several among us suspect, the NFL has to do something punitive to deter teams from trotting out their star players following such a traumatic physiological event.
Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald took a hit and went face-first into the turf in Arizona on Monday night, and although he got up looking woozy, he didn’t miss a play.[...]
On the sideline he was shown being attended to by the team’s medical staff, and ESPN reported during the broadcast that he was evaluated for a concussion, that he was sniffing ammonia and that his balance was being checked.
A few questions here…
- What was the “eye-in-the-sky” athletic trainer watching and did he/she radio down to the sidelines?
- When did ammonia become part of the concussion evaluation? (I will save time on this it’s not)
- In real-time it was somewhere in the neighborhood of seven minutes, why was he not ushered to the locker room for evaluation, like the current protocol indicates?
- When are the professionals and college conglomerates going to take the return to play component of game-day concussions out of the hand of the players and coaches?
The answer to #4 is already in place at places like Notre Dame (see Scottgate post) and at a high school like mine (and many others where athletic trainers are employed). When there is an incident that creates signs that we have seen the past few days with Scott and Fitzgerald those players are pulled and stay out for the remainder of the game. As much as it can be frustrating to the player, team and fans, it is the proper management of concussion.
After the game has ended and the player has had the opportunity to recover/rest then and only then should it be time to consider the return to play question. Anecdotaly, players who are immediately removed from action, in any sport, with the first signs of concussion they tend to recover much faster: this has been my experience. For the record, I know this because kids tell me after the fact that they had symptoms but continued to play; compared to their peers who get pulled by me in similar situations.
I have laid off the NFL recently, because I felt they were trying, but it has become more and more evident that they are just paying lip service to the issue. And if I hear “it’s too complex” to handle at this level, I am going to PUKE. This is a brain injury after all.