NFL concussion protocol has been around since 2009. It has been tweaked a few times along the way, the most recent being 2016, and it is a protocol that is definitely here to stay as the NFL attempts to make the sport of professional football safer for its players.
So, what happens in that blue tent when a player is suspected of having suffered a concussion?
There are five steps in the NFL concussion protocol:
- The player is removed from the game if a play is determined to be a potential concussion
- The NFL team physician and an independent neurotrauma specialist review the play on tape and perform a concussion examination
- If there is suspicion of a concussion, the player is escorted to the locker room for further exam.
- If there is a concussion the player is then removed from the game
- If there is no concussion, the player may return to the game but is monitored closely throughout the remainder of the game.
And what are the observable symptoms that a concussion may have occurred? They are:
- Any loss of consciousness
- The player is slow to get up after a hit to the head
- There are motor coordination problems like stumbling, tripping, or slow labored movements
- A blank or vacant look
- Clutching of head after contact
- Visible facial injury in combination with any of the above
And beyond that there is a “return to participation protocol” which can keep a player out of actual games indefinitely until it is determined that he is fully recovered.
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