Understanding Concussion: People are still not getting it

WESTBOROUGH, MA January 30, 2017 I am surprised that in a time that scientific knowledge about the long-term impact of concussion is understood and clinically proven that people are still not taking it seriously.  I am asked to evaluate student athletes and frequently am asked whether or not the athlete may return to play before they have begun a return to play protocol.  The protocol about which I write comes in sequence to the athlete being symptom free.  When this happens he or she may begin a return to play protocol that consists of systematic activities designed to slowly stress the athlete in an effort to be certain that no symptoms will return as the athlete exerts himself over a 5 step sequence that ends in a full contact practice.  The reason for this is to reduce the risk of further, prolonged injury and potentially lethal second impact syndrome to the athlete.
Even at the highest level NFL athletes are being held out with “upper body” injury only to be returned to the game within minutes. Viewers are led to believe that the athlete was brought to a darkened, sound proof room for a careful cognitive status exam to rule out the effects of concussion.  The NFL now utilize the services of independent physicians and a trainer in the sky booth watching for hits and injuries that may be indicative of concussion. And yet athletes with obvious signs of concussion are still being minimized.  I find this outrageous when so much is known about brain injury its long term impact on health. According to Aaron Gordon of Vice Sports, “Ladarius Green of the San Diego Chargers suffered a concussion in practice before the team’s regular season opener. However, he still played in the first two games of the season before experiencing another concussion. He missed one game before returning Week 4 against the Browns.”

Gordon, A. (2106). https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/is-the-nfls-concussion-protocol-working

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