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Many want to see changes in concussion protocol policy, including former NFL player

Dolphins Bengals Football
Posted at 6:35 PM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 11:38:36-04

With the recent scare of Dolphins Quarterback, Tua Tagoviloa's concussion, many people are wondering if the NFL needs to update its protocols.

KOAA News5 anchor Ashley Portillo spoke with a former NFL player to see what changes need to happen.

Let's start with the basics, what causes a concussion? According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, when a hit to the head is impacted by a bump, blow or jolt, it causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth causing a traumatic brain injury or TBI.

This rapid movement causes brain tissue to change shape which can stretch or even damage brain cells. It can also cause chemical and metabolic damage within the brain cells making it difficult for cells to function and communicate. "Since the brain is the body’s control center, the effects of a concussion can be far-reaching."

Most concussions are not considered life-threatening but it's the effects of having one or multiple concussions that can cause serious damage later on in life.

This has been seen already throughout the NFL and has been a center of discussion and center of controversy for years. The long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.

Most commonly found in athletes, military veterans, and others with repeated head injuries CTE is a degenerative brain disease. The protein called tau begins to malfunction due to the trauma and eventually completely malfunctions spreading and killing brain cells all over.

While CTE does not appear to be rare there is just no way of knowing how prevalent it is, as there is no accurate way of diagnosing it while someone is alive.

Dolphins Quarterback, Tua Tagoviloa's injury came just days after he was hit earlier in another game. He appeared wobbly and struggled to maintain his balance in the game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

He was taken out of the game but was cleared by doctors and allowed to return to action.

The decision to let him play last night sparked outrage and conversation among NFL players and fans about concussion protocol.

Today, News5 spoke to Paul Browning, a former NFL wide receiver and CSU Pueblo graduate.

“There's a certain mindset that you have to take on. You know, I've played with a broken ankle, I've played with so many different injuries,” said Browning.

It’s a mindset and narrative he hopes to change. Browning also coaches at the annual Pro Football Camp in Colorado Springs. He says during the camp, it’s important to teach kids how to take care of themselves while out on the field.

“Teaching you how to tackle, teach you how to do this the way,” said Browning. “So when you start getting concussions or concussion symptoms, you as a player can also understand and say, ‘alright, let me do my best to take care of myself.’”

Browning says changes in ensuring player safety are already happening at the youth and high school level, but the same progress hasn’t been seen for professional athletes who’ve been injured.

“You get your helmet knocked off, and you have to come out of the game. At the NFL level, it is 100% A business,” said Browning.

“They're going to do whatever it takes. This is their livelihood, this their whole future. That's how they look at it,” said Dr. Lorne MacDonald, a physical therapist and owner of The Colorado Institute of Sports Medicine Physical Therapy.

Dr. MacDonald also said progress starts with educating young athletes on listening to their body if they’re injured. He says he also takes time to educate the dozens of professional athletes he works with too.

“It’s educating the kids all the way up. Basically, to tell the truth, and getting the coaches on board” said Dr. MacDonald.

For professional athletes, they both say concussion protocols start with the players union.

“The conversation is going to be tightening up protocols, and the NFLPA has already started an investigation into it,” said Dr. MacDonald.

“There's so many guys who can get hit and have a concussion and still pass protocol 100%, that can still happen. So the changes need to be made at the at the next level for sure,” said Browning. “I know, that there will be some sort of a change because of that. But how long and exactly what are they going to do that will stick?”

Browning also works as a sports vision therapist at Impact Vision Therapy. He helps people dealing with any type of vision or neurological issues, and getting people back on track after a traumatic brain injury or concussion. It’s a line of work he says is close to his heart after playing football for years.

An investigation is underway by the NFL players association into what happened last Sunday and why Tua was allowed to return to the game.

Tua tweeted today that he is feeling much better and recovering from last night's incident.


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