Friday October 21st, 2016

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The NFL and NFLPA conducted a recent review of the league concussion protocol following Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton taking a hit from Denver Broncos DeMarcus Ware on opening night.

While the investigation found that everything was done according to policy, with a joint statement being issued by the league and union, both parties found that a “technology glitch” delayed actually examining Newton. The statement didn’t elaborate on the glitch, where it came from or how it occurred.

Additionally, it explained that both the Panthers medical staff and UNC could not see the hit and as a result, asked to review the play via the sideline video replay system. The team physician and UNC initiated radio contact with the Booth ATC (injury spotter) and asked to view the video but apparently that process was slowed.

Below is an excerpt from the statement outlining the NFL and NFLPA’s positioning.

“…After reviewing the replay and observing Mr. Newton from the sideline, the Panthers’ medical staff and the (Unaffiliated Neuro-trauma Consultant) agreed that no further evaluation of Mr. Newton was necessary as they did not observe signs or symptoms of concussion. … Collaboration between the Team Physician and the UNC, who is jointly appointed by the parties, is a critical aspect of the Concussion Protocol and therefore bears emphasis. In both instances, the reviews of the NFL and NFLPA determined that the club physicians and UNCs worked closely together to review the plays at issue and jointly made medical determinations regarding evaluation and diagnosis; in each instance, the medical determination made revealed that neither player had sustained a concussion.”

Despite the Panthers following proper concussion procedures, the NFL and NFLPA in addition to the league’s medical advisors and the NFL Physicians Society decided to further clarify the concussion protocol.

Some of the agreed upon enhancements are below.

  • Concussion protocol to require the Booth ATC Spotter to remain in contact with the club medical team and provide video support until the medical team confirms that a concussion evaluation has occurred;
  • The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, together with the NFLPA Medical Director will conduct a conference call with all UNCs to review changes to the concussion protocol; 

The NFL and NFLPA are reviewing the merits of supplementing the Booth ATC program with a Booth UNC program as part of their continuing evaluation of the protocol to ensure the best possible care of our players.  

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