Sports

NFL, NFLPA agree to modifications in concussion protocols that will go into effect immediately

The National Football League and the NFLPA will implement new concussion protocols in time for Sunday’s games.

The NFLPA released a statement that they had made changes to the protocol — something that both parties said was necessary and imminent — but was urging the league to accept.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins sits on the turf during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 25, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins sits on the turf during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 25, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Florida.
(Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

A key change to the protocols is that any player who is diagnosed with ataxia — “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue” — my not return to the game.

“The Protocol exists to establish a high standard of concussion care for each player whereby every medical professional engages in a meaningful and rigorous examination of the player-patent (sic),” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement on Saturday. “To that end, the parties remain committed to continuing to evaluate our Protocol to ensure it reflects the intended conservative approach to evaluating player-patients for potential head injuries.”

The outcry comes after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion on Sept. 29 that sent him to the hospital, which happened just four days after he was put into concussion protocol because he wobbled to the turf after a tackle during the previous game.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is taken off the field on a stretcher during the first half of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29, 2022, in Cincinnati.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is taken off the field on a stretcher during the first half of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29, 2022, in Cincinnati.
(AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

NFL, NFLPA ANNOUNCE THEY ‘ANTICIPATE CHANGES’ TO CONCUSSION PROTOCOL AMID TUA TAGOVAILOA INCIDENT

Tagovailoa and the Dolphins said that he suffered a hyperextended back, leading to the wobble and fall. However, a neurologist was terminated by the NFLPA after it was found that he made “several mistakes” while evaluating the quarterback back in Week 3.

In the Sept. 29 game against the Bengals on Week 4, Tagovailoa suffered head and neck injuries and his hands curled up on the field after a tackle in which he hit his head on the turf. He was subsequently stretchered off and admitted to the hospital, but he was discharged and flown back to Miami that night.

Nyheim Hines seemed to suffer from ataxia in the Colts’ game on Thursday against the Broncos. He, like Tagovailoa in Week 3, wobbled to the turf after a tackle. He was ruled out of the game with a concussion.

Nyheim Hines (21) of the Indianapolis Colts is helped to his feet after being hit during a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on Oct. 6, 2022, in Denver.

Nyheim Hines (21) of the Indianapolis Colts is helped to his feet after being hit during a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on Oct. 6, 2022, in Denver.
(Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

The NFL-NFLPA Concussion Evaluation and Management Protocol was adopted in 2013.

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