SBD/February 27, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL To Mandate Post-Injury Sideline Concussion Testing With New App

NFL players will receive a post-injury sideline test to detect concussions
The NFL’s mandatory post-injury sideline concussion assessment tool instituted for the '12 season "will now be used in app form by all 32 teams,” according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. The league's “hope is that being able to compare the results of a baseline test and a postinjury test side by side in real time will speed diagnosis and help doctors and trainers recognize when a player should be removed from a game.” The post-injury test is “quick -- it takes about six to eight minutes -- and shares many elements with the baseline test to allow a comparison that might indicate a decline in function.” Both include a “section on the players' concussion history and a 24-symptom checklist.” On the post-injury tests, there is “one different element: a series of five questions designed to test orientation and glean how confused a player might be at that moment.” The tests are “far from perfect.” Some doctors are “concerned the NFL tests are trying to reduce concussion evaluation to ticking items off a checklist.” Princeton Univ. Health Services Athletic Medicine Dir Margot Putukian, a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck & Spine Committee, “acknowledged” the problem, “emphasizing the importance of having doctors familiar with the players evaluate them.” Putukian said, “I think we have to be careful. The tool, it’s not the be-all, end-all. There are going to be athletes who have concussions that this tool does not pick up. It’s not a perfect test.” The NFL also “plans to have independent neurological consultants on the sideline during each game to assist the team physician in diagnosing and treating players" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/27).

THE HGH DEBATE: Redskins LB London Fletcher joined NFL Network’s Darren Sharper and Heath Evans yesterday to discuss the effort by the NFL and the NFLPA to implement HGH testing. Fletcher noted he wants a “clean game," saying, "I want to compete against guys that are doing it the right way.” Fletcher initially thought 10% of the league was using HGH, but said, “I'm thinking my number is extremely conservative.” Sharper claimed over 50% of players were using HGH. Fletcher said that percentage “seems far-fetched, but if it's 1%, that's too many.” Fletcher: “Let's go out here, get the testing done. Let's go out and just play the game the way it's supposed to be played.” Evans added, “You need to get testing done. Posturing or not, call it what you will, the bottom line is we all want a level playing field, except for the ones that are cheating." He added, "They need to get this worked out ... for the betterment of the game. We talked about protecting the shield. I think this goes further to protect the shield” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 2/26).
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