Team Physicians Talk Concussion Protocol at NFL Combine

During a media session at the NFL Combine, Drs. Stanley Herring and Margot Putukian, both members of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, demonstrated the sideline concussion protocol employed to help diagnose players with possible head injuries.

Dr. Herring, who is the Team Physician for the Seattle Seahawks, serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Advocacy and Education on the Head, Neck and Spine Committee. He explained the importance of the demonstration, saying that “the best thing to do…is walk you through an examination that we would do on the sideline or in the locker room in real time and show you what we’re doing so [you] can have a foundation to understand that once we have this data it helps us make a decision on whether an athlete may be concussed.”

He added that “no test is perfect.”

“Some athletes can perfectly pass all of this and still be concussed. This is our effort to help standardize an approach to a very challenging diagnosis.”

Dr. Putukian, who is the Head Team Physician at Princeton University, serves as Chair of the Subcommittee on Return-to-Play on the Head, Neck and Spine Committee. She emphasized the “elusive” nature of concussions, and the benefits of an added trainer viewing NFL games from in-stadium booths. The trainers “are helping our team physicians and medical staffs,” she said. “If they see something that they feel concerned about, then they can call down. The referees have been encouraged to also do what they need to do if a player needs to be evaluated.”

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