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Concussion Response: How The NFL Watches For TBIs

Earlier this week, NFL quarterback Michael Vick suffered a "pretty significant" concussion, in the words of Eagles coach Andy Reid. Despite Vick's importance to the team, he will apparently sit out next week's game to allow his brain time to recover instead of risking further damage.

Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries are also a big concern for youth athletes in California. As a major newspaper is reporting, a "sideline assessment" can help determine how much risk an athlete faces after a hard hit. The newspaper talked to a concussion specialist for perspective on how the NFL spots possible concussions.

According to that doctor, the first thing to do is determine whether a spine or neck injury is also involved. If so, the athlete will require immediate emergency care. Otherwise, many health officials use the SCAT2 test. SCAT2 stands for "Standardized Concussion Assessment Tool."

Some examples of the SCAT2 at work include:

· Asking the athlete about common symptoms, such as how he or she feels. Dazed, bewildered or foggy responses can be an indication of a concussion.

· Checking the athlete's balance by asking him or her to complete a series of stances. Some kinds of clumsy or unbalanced behavior subtract points from the score, pointing to a concussion.

· Testers also walk athletes through the "Maddock Score" by asking easy questions. For example, the assessment could ask whether the victim knows what day it is or where he or she is.

· Finally, testers look at the athlete's memory abilities by asking them to repeat a brief string of words and numbers.

Any parent who suspects a child has suffered a brain injury should seek treatment as soon as possible. It is important to consult with a medical professional and to keep the athlete from going back into the game - a subsequent hit to the head could have even worse consequences. If school or athletic employees like coaches or medical staffers allow an injured athlete to keep playing, the results can be catastrophic and could give rise to a personal injury claim.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Vick's concussion: The sideline assessment," Robert Senior, Nov. 12, 2012

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