When a concussion is not a concussion: Better ask the NFL


Brain Inflammation
Case Keenum, the Quarterback for the St. Louis Rams was sacked in a play towards the end of the game and hit the turf hard. He was observed holding his helmet and wobbly on  his feet as he first stood up. These are the signs of a concussed player. A team trainer ran out to see if Keenum was OK, but was told to leave the field or have the team face a penalty. The reserve quarterback, who observed the play from the sidelines and saw the effects on Keenum, quickly began his warm-up assuming that he would be called into play. But, Keenum resumed playing as no one addressed  his concussion until the conclusion of the game.

This situation unfolded in spite of the NFL’s stated approach to reduce concussions among players through increased awareness and vigilance and rapid intervention by physicians and trained personnel to get injured players out of the game quickly. Is the NFL’s approach to concussion recognition and management a strategy to appease the public or did their system fail with Case Keenum? From my perspective, there is a problem with how Case Keenum’s concussion was identified and managed. Given what we know about the long term effects of multiple concussions, why was Case Keenum allowed to continue to play and finish out the game.

We’ll never know the truth here, but something went wrong.

Click here to read the New York Times story on Case Keenum’s concussion.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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