When it comes to head injuries the NFL is no stranger to them. With a sport so physical and violent such as football it is just the nature of the sport that head injuries should come about. Having a clear sign of head trauma for a player should be enough to keep them out. Being allowed to go back out and finish a game is a serious issue. An even more serious issue is when said player goes out just four days later and has another blow to his head and clearly is concussed again. This is the situation with Tua Tagovailoa. Below two videos will be linked by Brian Sutterer MD explaining both hits.
Sunday Against Buffalo
As we all can remember from last week, Tua was pushed by Buffalo’s Matt Milano and fell backwards and whipped his head off of the ground. Tua then got up shaking his head and stumbled a few times before being caught by one of his offensive lineman. All though it is tough to say that he had a back injury causing that staggering for Tua is something most of the general public who follow football cannot fathom.
Tua would be cleared by an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) and they listed his injury as a back injury. For many people it is clear to see that he was concussed but not all concussions can show right away. There can be delayed reactions to head trauma that can sometimes take hours to take effect. Understanding that this could be the case for the hit on Tua Sunday if he cleared protocol leading up to Thursday he should have been good to go, even though many would say no.
Last Night Against Cincinnati
Fast forward to Thursday Night Football. Tua runs a play action fake, rolls to his left, and is snatched up by defensive lineman Josh Tupou. Being thrown down and hitting the back of his head with so much force Tua was knocked unconscious. The following situation is a clear sign of immediate head trauma.
Tua’s hands look like they are stuck in an awkward position. This is called posturing. Posturing is a clear sign of immediate head trauma and likely when someone is in this position they are unconscious. The NFL also refers to this as the fencing response which we’ve seen with quarterback Tom Savage of the Texans in the past when one of his arms was extended outright.
What Happens When Posturing Occurs
When this happens the brain is sending an overload of electrical signals to the nerves and the nerves tense up into awkward positions as response to head trauma, which is why Tua’s hands were contorted into that position. Obviously this is a scary situation because you cannot assess if Tua has any other injuries which is why they put him on the spine board because if Tua is unconscious they have to assume there is a neck injury as well because the person cannot respond to the medical personnel, which is just a precaution.
After all that the issue with the situation is how can someone who is clearly concussed on a Sunday be cleared to play and get significantly more concussed on a Thursday? I understand the NFLPA is doing an internal investigation of Sunday’s situation but now the situation is a whole lot worse. Tua will be out for a bit now but what if the decision to let him play last night was one that could cost him his career. We have seen how people who have severe concussion before have to retire early, like Luke Kuechly and Jordan Reed.
As everyone wished for Tua’s good health and speedy recovery the NFL should be wary of situations like this in the future. Having a young star such as Tua being forced to play in a primetime game one a short week was just a catastrophe waiting to happen as we saw unfold last night.
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