NFL, NFLPA issue joint statement on revising concussion protocol amid Tua Tagovailoa situation

The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement discussing the Tua Tagovailoa situation, agreeing that “modifications are needed to enhance player safety.”

While there is still much to be understood and explored in what happened to Tua Tagovailoa and whether or not there have been missteps in his medical care, the NFL and NFLPA have responded swiftly in how they plan to approach their Concussion Protocol in the future.

ESPN’s Field Yates shared a joint statement released by the NFL and NFLPA, which reiterates that the investigation into the Tua Tagovailoa situation is “ongoing.”

“Therefore, we have not made any conclusions about medical errors or protocol violations,” the statement reads.

Additionally, the NFL and its player representatives “agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety.” Committees centered on player health for both organizations “have already begun conversations around the use of the term ‘Gross Motor Instability.’”

“We anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process,” the statement reads.

NFL, NFLPA take swift action in addressing Concussion Protocol issues amid Tua Tagovailoa injury situation

Considering the fact that Tagovailoa was cleared to return in the Week 3 game versus the Bills as having a back injury, the language around the “Gross Motor Instability” clause becomes particularly relevant.

Under the “No-Go Signs and Symptoms” section in the “NFL Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol“, the NFL states the following:

“If a player exhibits or reports any of the following signs or symptoms of concussion, he must be removed immediately from the field of play and transported to the locker room. If a neutral sideline observer or a member of the player’s Club’s medical team observes a player exhibitor receives a report that a player has experienced any of the following signs or symptoms, the player shall be considered to have suffered a concussion and may not return to participation (practice or play) on the same day under any circumstances.

  • Loss of Consciousness (including Impact Seizure and/or “fencing posture”)
  • Gross Motor Instability (GMI), identified in the judgment of the Club medical staff in consultation with the sideline UNC, who observe the player’s behavior, have access to the player’s relevant history and are able to rule out an orthopedic cause for any observed instability
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia”

While loss of consciousness, confusion and amnesia can be clearly determined, Gross Motor Instability could be reliant on the judgment of the club medical staff who observe the player’s behavior, survey their history and are able to rule out any orthopedic cause.

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