Despite recent breakthroughs in head trauma management, doctors at the NFL’s sideline concussion protocol news conference said concussions are consistently tough to diagnose.
Drs. Stanley Herring, M.D., and Margot Putukian, M.D., led a panel discussion during the the conference at the NFL Scouting Combine. And they agreed that it is best to take a player out when in doubt.
Herring, who is the Seattle Seahawks’ team physician, is a member of the league’s NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Advocacy and Education. Putukian, the head team physician at Princeton University, is a member of the Head, Neck & Spine Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Return-to-Play.
The doctors also said during the discusson:
* Players take a baseline concussion test before the season, and that test is uploaded into a sideline protocol program on an iPad. The doctors ran Sports Illustrated writer Peter King through the protocol test on an iPad.
* The doctors admitted it isn’t a perfect test but said it’s important to have a standardized way of examining concussions. They said it’s possible for a player to pass the test but still be concussed.
* Dr. Herring said it’s critical for the examining physician to know the player. If you know the player, you can recognize changes in behavior, including attempts to hide injury or an increased effort to pass the test.
* The test, which King took on the iPad, uses a 1-6 score system to rate how a player currently feels. It also includes short- and long-term memory tests (word recall, “what day is it?”, count backwards, etc.). There’s also a part of the test in which the player must perform certain physical tasks, like standing on one leg.
– Justin Hathaway, NFL.com