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Episode 71: The Gross Mishandling Of Tua Tagovailoa’s Concussion

Football is a concussion delivery system and last week we were again reminded that the NFL still needs to understand the dangers associated with head trauma. 

How many more players need to be placed at risk for permanent brain damage before the NFL is held accountable for their gross negligence and the malpractice of the coaches, trainers, and other personnel responsible for player safety?

By now, many of you have heard about the gross mishandling of the injuries sustained by Miami Dolphin quarterback Tua when he was tackled during a Sunday game against the Buffalo Bills causing his head to violently strike the playing field.  When he tried to stand and walk, he was tumbling, couldn’t walk straight, and was shaking his head.  To anyone who watched the video, with no doubt, he was dazed, confused, and disoriented. 

To anyone with any knowledge of concussions, Tua sustained a concussion. You would have to be on another planet not to recognize the obvious signs of a concussion.

You would have to be totally incompetent, not to remove this player from further participation during this game and require a complete concussion evaluation before allowing his to return to play.

But, despite obvious signs of a concussion, he was then allowed to return to play in the second half of this game and not placed in any concussion protocol. 

4 days later, on Thursday, in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was permitted to return to play, and again experienced head trauma causing him to be removed from the field and transported to the hospital.

Following this second head injury, Tua exhibited what is known as the “fencing response” throwing his hands over his head and face, a sign of gross mid brain injury.     

The NFL Players Association has called for an investigation and terminated an independent observed charged with the responsibility of recognizing on field concussions and making appropriate recommendations for removal from play.

The NFL defended the way this was all handled saying that proper protocol was followed.  They claimed Tua suffered a back injury.

Give me a break!  What happened was not just incompetence. It was criminal.  My friend, Chris Nowinski said someone needs to go to jail for allowing this man to return to play,  You know what?  He’s right.

We need an investigation by those responsible for licensing the physicians and trainers because they are obviously incompetent and need their licenses revoked.

We need an investigation by the federal Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) because those who were responsible for employee health and safety placed this player in a position of danger.

We need the district attorney to investigate and prosecute for criminal misfeasance and attempted murder.

It is well known that the risk of serious, permanent, and catastrophic injury increases if a second concussion takes place before being an individual is healed from his or her first concussion.  It is well known that repetitive head trauma exponentially increases the risk of permanent brain damage.  We are talking about the second impact syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, progressive neurodegeneration, and dementia.

This is insane.   We are now into week 5 of the NFL season, it’s time the NFL wakes up and takes meaningful measures to protect players.

It’s obvious despite all the rhetoric, the NFL still is not taking concussion management seriously.  Just listen to the coach who was relived “that he didn’t have anything more serious than a concussion” according to the New York Times.

I got news for this coach and the NFL. 

A concussion is a brain injury with potential serious life-long consequences.

Let me say this again, a concussion is a brain injury with potential serious life-long consequences.

They can’t be trusted.  Are they just stupid or are they evil?

It’s obvious that we cannot allow the NFL to hide behind its class action settlement claiming it is now doing the right thing for player safety. 

We need further congressional investigation into how the NFL handles concussion safety, and we need to see all the documents that the NFL has withheld from the public on their concussion management practices and conduct.

This tragic series of events is a clarion call.  It may be the beginning of the end of professional football as we know it. In my mind, it couldn’t be soon enough.

Audio version

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Brain Injury Insider

michael kaplen
Brain Injury Insider is a weekly video update by The Brain Injury Law Firm ®. We cover the latest news and developments in traumatic brain injury, concussion, and brain injury law.