Concussion protocols for sports have come a long way over the past few years at both professional and school levels. Included in just about every one of these guidelines is a rule that mandates how long a player must be removed from competition and practice after being diagnosed with a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
While this rule ensures that players have effectively healed following a brain injury, there are few groups who have set a standard for determining if a player has suffered too many brain injuries to continue competing. This gap in rules was highlighted this weekend when Broncos receiver Wes Welker suffered his third concussion in less than a year.
The league has already seen multiple players retire early citing concerns about brain injuries and their health. Some of these players were directly told by health professionals that they faced serious consequences if they suffered a single brain injury.
Some argue that there should not be a standard for the number of brain injuries a player can receive before being forced to end his career because every brain is different and these rules could potentially force relatively healthy players to prematurely retire against their will, which is a legitimate concern.
Most likely the best solution will be an individualized approach. If players are being properly evaluated and treated following brain injuries, doctors will make it clear when the risk grows too high. But, there will always be the risk that a player will ignore this advice and set themselves up for catastrophe without any sort of guidelines.