Head injuries, and specifically concussions, dominated the NFL injury front from Sunday's games, perhaps none with a bigger impact than the one suffered by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in his team's 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
At least four players were removed from play due to head trauma, and in
Robert Griffin III,
So what aspect of the NFL's concussion policy has the Redskins potentially in trouble with the league? Under league guidelines, teams must report all injuries sustained during the game in a timely and accurate fashion, and officials will consider whether the team's description given during the game, that
How a team's medical staff determines whether a player who has suffered a head injury during a game can return to the field has long been a subject of confusion. To address this, the league has made several adjustments to its formal policy over the past several years, calling upon teams to diagnose concussions -- and remove them from play for the remainder of the game -- based on the presence of a number of cardinal signs and symptoms, including:
- Loss of consciousness
- New and/or persistent symptoms (such a headache and nausea)
- Abnormal neurological finding (such as balance issues)
- And progressive, persistent or worsening symptoms
The team's medical staff can use these symptoms, or rely on its own clinical judgment, to remove players from the game. However, with the exception of loss of consciousness, many of these findings can be subtle, and to aid teams in more challenging cases, the NFL has suggested teams conduct the following tests on the sidelines to help determine whether players can return to action:
- In the case of worsening symptoms, players will be screened for possible spinal injury or brain trauma more serious than concussions, such as a skull fracture or bleeding on the brain.
- Orientation: "What month is it? "What year is it?"
- Word recall: The five-word list they're asked to repeat.
- Concentration: Repeating numbers backward. It's not just three numbers. It goes up to five, like 7-1-8-4-6.
- Balance: In addition to the test with two feet together, there are others with one foot behind the other and standing on one leg.
- Symptoms checklist: Such as headache, nausea and dizziness.
Beyond the short-term complications of concussions listed above, a major concern regarding their impact involves the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma, and particularly those sustained before full healing of a preceding injury.
From listening to Shanahan's post-game press conference, RGIII's symptoms were not subtle, and therefore the team may not have needed to go through all of these tests to determine that he had suffered a concussion.
In perhaps the ugliest scene of Week 5, the much-maligned Chiefs quarterback lay flat on his back for several minutes after suffering a head injury on a hit by Ravens' Haloti Ngata, as some fans cheered Cassel's injury. Cassel was flattened by Ngata after releasing a pass in the direction of Jamaal Charles and did not return to the game. If Cassel does not pass neurological tests later this week, backup quarterback Brady Quinn, who finished the team's 9-6 loss to
The Giants running back, a surprise star as a fill-in for Ahmad Bradshaw in Week 3, suffered a head injury while returning a kickoff in the first quarter of the team's 41-27 win over
The Titans' second-string running back, filling in for Chris Johnson at the end of a 30-7 trouncing at Minnesota, injured his left knee after being tackled by Vikings' cornerback Josh Robinson and was carted off the field. While there has been no word out of
Adding injury to the sting of losing a 21-3 lead in Sunday's loss to
Joining the concussion parade from Week 5 was Jackson, the Browns' defensive leader, who left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Following
The Steelers' safety, who had missed the previous two games with a right calf strain, aggravated the injury in the first quarter of Sunday's thrilling 16-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles and did not return to action. After Polamalu limped off the field, Ryan Mundy took over in his place, as he had done in the All-Pro safety's absence. With