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NFL concussion protocol aimed at better diagnosis

6:27 PM, Dec 12, 2011   |    comments
Charles LeClaire/US Presswire
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CLEVELAND --  This past February the NFL added to its sideline testing protocol for concussions.

It includes the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 2 test.  Click on the link to download a copy. 

The test includes a series of symptom checks, cognitive and physical exams.  The NFL says it modified the test to relate specifically to pro football.  It also includes a neuro evaluation to rule out spinal injuries and brain bleeds, an orientation test, immediate and delayed recall test, concentration and balance.

It's not perfect, but it's the best tool currently available says MetroHealth neurosurgeon Robert Geertman. 

"It's a crude screening tool but it gives you a general idea of where the person is going to shake out in terms of ability to return to the game or not," says Dr. Geertman.

Browns quarterback, Colt McCoy, did not have this exam after being hit head on by Steeler James Harrison.  However, Geertman adds it's not uncommon for concussion symptoms to appear later because there are so many levels of concussion. 

The Browns say McCoy wasn't exhibiting symptoms of concussion when he returned to the sideline after laying on the field and being attended by trainers. 

There's talk of the NFL possibly putting neurologists on the sidelines, would it make a difference?

"A neurologist can pick up on these symptoms faster and probably has a little bit more experience with these things, but that's not to say a trainer couldn't be trained to evaluate for this," Dr. Geertman says.

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