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MSU expands medical evaluation method, WR Alante Brown in concussion protocol

Michigan State's medical staff came under fire for allowing Brown to return to play against CMU after he was carted off the field...

Michigan State football's medical staff came under fire this week after allowing wide receiver Alante Brown to return to play following an injury which had the Nebraska transfer carted off the field on a backboard.

Brown crumbled to the field after delivering a big block on the Spartans' opening kickoff return. Medical personnel rushed on to the field, followed by head coach Mel Tucker, before the medical cart came out.

After being evaluated by the staff, Brown returned to Michigan State's sideline and then the game, when he returned a kickoff of his own for 16 yards late in the second quarter against the Chippewas. After halftime, Brown was seen wearing street clothes on MSU's sideline.

On Thursday, Michigan State Athletics said in a released statement that athletic director Alan Haller had "requested a full evaluation of the events" concerning Brown's injury and the decision which allowed him to return to the game. Dr. Jeff Kovan, MSU’s director of athletic medicine, conducted the evaluation. Kovan is not a part of the football program's gameday medical staff, but provided insight into the decision to allow Brown back in the game.

“I analyzed the actions and verbal statements from all involved members of the sports medicine staff to ensure accuracy and consistency,” Kovan said in a statement. “Initial on-field evaluation of Brown’s injury included a head and neck screen, which prompted spine boarding and precautionary removal to the tunnel. Per all reports, none of the Athletic training staff or physician medical staff had direct vision of the injury when it occurred. Evaluation in the tunnel, while still on the spine board, was negative relative to a neck injury, neurological injury or concussion. Subsequent x-rays were performed in the stadium and were also negative. Repeat examination (for neck injury, neurological injury and concussion) after x-ray continued to be negative. Based on interviews, an isolated replay of the injury was not part of initial sideline video review.

“Based on the negative clinical examination and x-ray, activity progression occurred on an exercise bike on the sideline and Brown remained asymptomatic and therefore was allowed to return to play.”

Kovan said that after medical staff saw a replay of the hit which injured Brown at halftime, the decision was made to remove the wide receiver from the game at that point.

“Based on what was viewed, a decision was made to withhold Brown from further play despite continuing to have normal examination for precautionary reasons,” Kovan said. “The following morning, Brown displayed mild concussive symptoms on his repeat examinations. He’s currently doing well and progressing through concussion protocol.”

Michigan State will now expand its use of video access as a tool to help medical staff and personnel make in-game decisions when evaluating injuries and potential return to play in the future.

After the game, and again during his Monday press conference, on the decision to allow Brown to return, Tucker said both times that those decisions are made by the medical staff, not Michigan State's coaching staff.

“For me, all those decisions are all medical,” Tucker said Monday. “If a guy plays, if he doesn't play, if he practices, if he doesn't practice, it's all medical. I don't have anything to do with those.”

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