Questions about the concussion protocol after the injury of the …


The shadow of concussions hovers again over the NFL, the professional American football championship, whose protocol for allowing replay after a shock is called into question by two impacts suffered in five days by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The shadow of concussions hovers again over the NFL, the professional American football championship, whose protocol for allowing replay after a shock is called into question by two impacts suffered in five days by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

The images, terrible, still haunt. Tackled by a Bengals defender in the 27-15 loss to Cincinnati on Friday, the 24-year-old fell heavily, the back of his skull, albeit protected by a helmet, hitting the ground hard. His fingers immediately stiffened in all directions above his face.

Hospitalized, he was able to return to Florida with his team after passing exams. « I’m feeling much better and focused on my recovery, » he tweeted on Friday.

Incidents of this nature are quite frequent in American football as in other sports where contact is sometimes violent. This is the case of rugby, for example, where the International Federation, World Rugby, had to specify its rules in terms of « concussion protocol » this summer following a controversy surrounding the case of Jonny Sexton, the Irish opener. allowed to participate in the second test match of the victorious tour of the XV at Clover in New Zealand after having suffered a shock to the head in the first match.

The question has long haunted the world of rugby, and three former Irish players recently filed a complaint in Dublin against their federation, against World Rugby and against their former clubs for repeated concussions suffered during their career, reported this week the Irish press. . Before them, former players, such as ex-England hooker Steve Thompson, have taken legal action against rugby institutions for the brain damage they suffered after the end of their career.

– Investigation opened –

In the United States, after the fear aroused by the veneer of Tagovailoa, questions arise.

Because it is the second time in five days that the quarterback has suffered a shock. Last Sunday, he was already injured after being tackled by a Buffalo player, his head hitting the ground again. He immediately got up, but couldn’t walk on his own and collapsed again. This did not prevent him from finishing the meeting, after the green light from the concussion protocol. He was then decisive in the victory of the Dolphins (21-19).

Medical staff tend to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after his injury received during the 2nd quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 29, 2022

Medical staff tend to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after his injury received during the 2nd quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 29, 2022

ANDY LYONS – GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Criticized, the Florida team had defended itself by saying that he had been injured « in the lower back » and not in the head.

This explanation did not convince the players’ union (NFLPA), which opened an investigation into how the protocol was carried out. « We are all outraged by what we have seen in recent days, » said its president, JC Tretter, who is calling for changes to the way it operates.

Several symptoms should lead to a ban on resuming play, such as loss of consciousness, a state of confusion, amnesia or motor instability. However, believes Tretter, the inability of Tagovailoa to stay upright after his shock justified keeping him off the field.

According to NFL regulations, three independent neurotrauma experts are present at every game to monitor for signs of a possible concussion. But, specify the texts, « the responsibility for the diagnosis and the decision to resume a match with a player rests exclusively with the main doctor of the team or the doctor designated as such » after consulting with one of these experts.

In the end, it is therefore the club that decides and must be held responsible.

– « It looks fishy » –

The rules also require any player who has undergone a protocol to be reassessed the next day by a member of the team’s medical staff. Which was the case for Tagovailoa, NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said on Friday, adding that the body was also « gathering information on how things unfolded » on Sunday.

« The goal is to ensure that the protocol has been respected. There will be very serious consequences if this has not been the case, » he assured.

Experts are already questioning whether Tagovailoa’s motor instability resulted from a back injury. « I’m curious to see what comes out of the investigation, » Rachael Hearn, a researcher in chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by blows to the head, told the GridIron podcast.

The NFL logo during a press conference held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on January 31, 2017

The NFL logo during a press conference held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on January 31, 2017

Tim Bradbury – GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives

« I hope they have good documents to justify the decision taken that day. I don’t want to speculate, because I don’t know what the other symptoms were. But it looks fishy, » a- she blurted out.

« The Dolphins, like all teams, always try to get out of this type of situation. If I were Tua, I would never play for them again, » said Chris Nowinski, director of a concussion support organization. cerebral, at Fox Sports Radio.

By Rob Woollard / Los Angeles (AFP) / © 2022 AFP

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