Less than a month ago, we discussed in this blog a new system that Philadelphia Eagles head trainer Rick Burkholder instituted to determine a player’s readiness to return to the field after a head injury.
Regrettably, just last week, the Eagles have once again made headlines because of head injuries, but not in a good way.
Early in last week’s season opener against Green Bay, Philadelphia Eagles’ linebacker Stewart Bradley got up woozily after a play, stumbled and then collapsed on the field. Players from both teams started waving to get medical personnel on the field. Yet four minutes later, Bradley was back in the game! It wasn’t until halftime that he was diagnosed with a concussion and taken out of the game.
Remarkably, the Eagles said that no medical personnel saw Bradley’s collapse or the hit that caused it. They also said that their initial exam on the sidelines didn’t reveal a concussion. But any of the millions of television viewers of the game could have told them it was a concussion. He was stumbling around like a boxer who had taken a number of punches to the head.
All of this raises some very difficult questions. If the NFL — and the Philadelphia Eagles in particular, with its raised awareness of the dangers of concussions and full medical staffs — has difficulty identifying so obvious a concussion, then how many serious concussions go undiagnosed and untreated (or completely unnoticed) on high school fields every weekend?
There are data which estimate approximately 70,000 reported high school football concussions a year. Reported. There also are data which suggest that as few as 25 percent of high school football concussions each year are reported. If you extrapolate the numbers, it is a truly frightening statistic.
With concussion awareness becoming more widespread, the Philadelphia Eagles took a major step backwards last week in educating younger players about concussions and their dangers.