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NFL – Two head shocks in five days for Tua Tagovailoa: the concussion protocol called into question

NFL – Two head shocks in five days for Tua Tagovailoa: the concussion protocol called into question

The images, terrible, still haunt. Tackled by a Bengals defender in the 27-15 loss to Cincinnati on Friday, Tua Tagovailoa fell heavily, the back of his skull, certainly protected by a helmet, hitting the ground violently. His fingers immediately stiffened in all directions above his face. Hospitalized, the Doplhins quarterback 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.


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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.

We’re all outraged by what we’ve seen

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).

Criticized, the Florida team had defended themselves by saying that he had been injured “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, say the texts, “The responsibility for the diagnosis and the decision to return a player to a match rests exclusively with the main team doctor or the doctor designated as such” after consultation with one of these experts. In the end, it is therefore the club that decides and must be held responsible.

If I was Tua, I would never play for them again

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 in the process of “gather information about how things went” sunday. “The goal is to ensure that the protocol has been followed. 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 will come out of the investigation.” told the GridIron podcast Rachael Hearn, a researcher in chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by blows to the head. “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.”she let go.

“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,” Chris Nowinski, director of an organization supporting concussion victims, told Fox Sports Radio.


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