Dr. Campbell: Concussions & the NFL – Cam Newton out Monday night

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Concussions are becoming an everyday reality in the NFL.

Last week, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took a vicious hit to the head while attempting to score. He was removed from the game and placed on the NFL’s concussion protocol. Over the weekend the team announced that he has not yet been cleared for Monday night’s game and will not play.

1.    What is a concussion?

A concussion is a common brain injury. It occurs when there is a blow to the head. In a concussion, the brain is slammed against the inside of the skull due to a blow to the head. This can result in a bruise on the surface of the brain.

2.    What happens when a player is suspected of having a concussion in the NFL?

In the NFL, There are at least 29 medical officials at every game, a group that includes team physicians, athletic trainers, medical spotters and unaffiliated neurological consultants (UNC). The neurological consultant is often a neurologist who works with team physicians to identify, evaluate and diagnose concussions, and must provide explicit approval for any player to return to the game — they have the final say in removing a player due to concussion and reinstating them as well.

Here is what the NFL considers “observable” concussion symptoms that could require a sideline test:

•    Any loss of consciousness
•    Slow to get up following a hit to the head (“hit to the head” may include secondary
contact with the playing surface)
•    Motor coordination/balance problems (stumbles, trips/falls, slow/labored movement)
•    Blank or vacant look
•    Disorientation (e.g., unsure of where he is on the field or location of bench)
•    Clutching of head after contact

If anyone — medical personnel, coaches or on-field game officials — observe any of these symptoms, the player is to be removed and a sideline test administered. Results of the test are compared to a player’s “baseline” results from a test taken previously when known not to be concussed to determine if the player is affected. If so, he is taken into the locker room for further testing.

3.    What are the symptoms of a concussion?

•    Headache/sensitive to bright lights
•    Confusion/difficulty remembering
•    Irritability
•    Sleep disturbance

4.    How long does it take to recover from a concussion?

Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. But for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children and teens. Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another concussion.

Recovery from a concussion requires rest. It is likely that Cam will undergo repeated neurological evaluations until he is deemed back to his baseline testing state. Then he will be allowed to return.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter. If there’s a topic you’d like to see Dr. Campbell cover, let us know by sending an email to newstips@wncn.com.

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