Doctors, former players discuss athlete safety after Tua Tagovailoa’s head injury

A scary moment on Thursday, Sept. 29, involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has the sports world buzzing.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 10:41 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A scary moment on Thursday, Sept. 29, involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has the sports world buzzing.

Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a stretcher after he took a hit to the head in their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The star player was diagnosed with a concussion, but many people questioned the team’s decision to let Tagovailoa play.

Just five days before, he was forced out of Sunday’s game with another head-related injury.

Jeremy Hill, a former running back at LSU and NFL veteran, was left stunned and felt Tagovailoa should not have played in Thursday’s matchup.

“Honestly, I was pissed off,” said Hill. “I was very upset because I felt like Tua got let down by everybody.”

Hill was critical of the NFL’s current concussion protocols.

“Protocol right now, I’ve been through it a million times. They ask you questions like, ‘Do you remember these words?’ They give you three or four words, they have a conversation with you, and they say, ‘Do you remember those three words we told you?’ If you can spit those back, you’re good to go back and play. To me, that’s just not enough attention to detail,” explained Hill.

This has sparked renewed conversations around head injuries in not just football but all sports with our young athletes.

Dr. Michael Villasin is a sports medicine physician at Ochsner Medical Center - Baton Rouge.

He says it’s vital that players, parents, and coaches know the signs of a concussion.

“It’s not worth the risk, no matter what importance there is to the game,” said Villasin.

The symptoms can include headaches, neck pain, nausea, vomiting, mood changes, dizziness, blurred vision, or balance problems, but experts say a diagnosis can get tricky.

“The thing is every patient will have their own symptoms. Some will be very common and overlap with a lot, but some people might only present with difficulty sleeping, or some people might only present with a little bit of nausea,” noted Villasin.

Primary care sports medicine physician Dr. Sean Bradley pointed out there are no lab tests or imaging methods that can determine if a concussion has occurred.

“A diagnosis is generally based off of symptoms at the time of the injury, a physical exam on the sideline, and how the injury took place,” said Bradley. “And no two concussions are ever the same. Even if an athlete suffers another concussion, he or she can have totally different symptoms that require a completely different treatment model from the previous injury.”

Experts want to assure parents that if a kid takes a hit to the head and shows any symptoms, they will not go back in the game.

”We’re going to try to get you back as soon as possible, but most importantly, as safe as possible,” added Villasin.

There is hope among some circles that what happened to Tagovailoa will lead to more rules and extra safety protocols.

”Hopefully, we can take this as a lesson going forward, and we can keep more players out of harm’s way,” said Hill.

Doctors are urging parents to keep a close eye on their young athletes. If you have any concerns or notice anything off, call a doctor as soon as possible.

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