David Irving’s concussion reveals brain injury treatment issues for more than the NFL

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Source: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

When Dallas Cowboy’s pass rusher David Irving experienced a concussion earlier this year, he probably didn’t expect to become a standout case for how brain injuries are mismanaged in both football and the larger medical community. But, after hiding his symptoms and getting into a car wreck shortly afterward, he has become just that.

Irving spoke about his November concussion that prematurely ended his season with Scout.com reporter Mike Fisher, and revealed that Irving initially hid a concussion suffered during a game. Rather than tell anyone he was experiencing symptoms after a particularly heavy hit, he went back out onto the field after half-time and likely took several more impacts to the head.

“I wanted to get another sack,” he admitted to Fischer.

The decision would come back to haunt Irving, as the severe aftereffects of the concussion would put him on the bench for the rest of the season.

“I found myself constantly looking for my phone and then realizing I was holding my phone in my hand,” he said. “It’s hard to put my words in order. I’ll be talking and I’ll know what I want to say but then when it’s time to talk, I can’t say it. … Like a deer caught in headlights.”

While this story alone is a cautionary tale for how players can put themselves at greater risk for injury by hiding concussion symptoms, Irving’s tale doesn’t end there. He knew he was experiencing symptoms of a concussion almost immediately after the injury, but he didn’t realize how severe the situation was until the next day.

While driving his daughter, Zoe, to school, Irving rear-ended another driver. His concussion symptoms appear to have been a significant factor contributing to the accident.

“I rolled through a stop sign and got in a fender bender with the truck ahead of me and didn’t even realize what I’d done or where I was,” he said. “That’s when I knew I needed help.”

This anecdote raises questions about why Irving, and the majority of people recovering a concussion, are permitted to drive despite experiencing cognitive complications.

It is well known that concussions can cause dizziness, memory problems, issues with vision, and light sensitivity – all of which could create dangerous problems while behind the wheel of a car. Despite this, there are no regulations restricting those with concussions from driving, and doctors rarely advise patients to avoid driving.

Over a month later, Irving is still recovering from his concussion, but says “it’s getting better, getting easier.” Still, he says he is looking forward to the next season.

“Hopefully, I won’t get injured. And see what I can do next year.”

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