Protocol is essential to change attitudes about head injury

No player should return the same day as his injury:  NFL still doesn’t get it…

Michael Sefton, Ph.D. 

ImageOctober 13, 2013 NEW BRAINTREE, MA I am listening to the New England Patriots game against the New Orleans Saints.  A Patriot’s player left the game with a reported head injury.  Throughout the coming minutes – 3 quarters of the game the announcers kept indicating that player may still return.  There was no clear indication given that no player should return to the same game after he sustains a head injury.  This is the current standard of care for athletes with suspected concussion. 

The message needs to get out that no player should return to the field after a suspected concussion.  In fact, the standard of care requires that athletes must wait at least 7 days prior to returning to any exertion whatsoever.  Then he must complete a stepwise plan of exertion supervised by the trainer and approved by the team physician who specializes in brain injury.  If the athlete experiences any symptoms during the steps of exertion then he is held out until symptom free for 7 days.

The NFL must come up with a published concussion protocol so that players and fans understand what can be expected for players identified with injuries to the head.  The value in this sets an example for athletes everywhere and established a serious tone needed to begin to change attitudes about concussion and the treatment they require for complete healing.  Athletes who fully heal from concussion lessen their risk of future injury.  Those who return to play before they are fully recovered are at high risk for repeat concussion and post-concussion syndrome.

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