The NFL concussion protocol and its very specific schedule and guidelines could determine the fate of the Kansas City Chiefs season. Patrick Mahomes has suffered a concussion and his status for the AFC championship game is in doubt.
The superstar Chiefs quarterback suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Kansas City’s divisional round victory over the Cleveland Browns. While scrambling, he was brought to the ground with the tackle wrapped around his neck. Mahomes Head hit the ground while his neck seemed twisted. Mahomes tried to get up and struggled first before falling to the ground. He eventually raced to the locker room before being sent off for the remainder of the contest, forcing substitute Chad Henne to hold onto Kansas City’s lead.
With the win, the Chiefs hosted an AFC Championship game with the Bills for the right to play in Super Bowl 55. But due to the NFL’s five-step concussion protocol, Mahomes’ availability may not be known until the end of the week before the Sunday January 24 game.
After Sunday’s game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said: “He’s doing great now, which is really positive as we look at this. He’s had all the contracts he needed to get through, we so let’s see where it goes. “
Mahomes himself tweeted twice after the game, writing “#HenneThingIsPossible” first and then telling Browns linebacker Mack Wilson, who had the tackle that hurt Mahomes, “Good brother!”
How long is Patrick Mahomes away?
There is no set timeline for a player’s return from the NFL concussion protocol, at least in terms of the number of days. Mahomes’ return to training and action will depend on how quickly he moves through the five stages of league protocol.
According to Athletic, the median time of the 29 shifts who suffered a concussion between 2015 and 2019 to return was seven days. But that’s just the sample center length of 29, which includes both longer and shorter absences.
It’s also important to note that recovery from a concussion does not necessarily follow the same line for every individual. Just because Reid said on Sunday that Mahomes “was feeling good”, and just because Mahomes tweeted a few times after the game, doesn’t say how quickly he could recover from his concussion.
Mahomes suffered a recorded concussion in his college / NFL career, which occurred in 2014 while playing quarterback for Texas Tech. He did not return to the game he was injured in, and the Red Raiders had a bye the following week. When Texas Tech played again 14 days after the injury, Mahomes was back.
The process for Mahomes through the NFL concussion protocol begins with a concussion assessment on Monday, the day after the injury. From there, he’ll need to go through each of the five protocol steps and be cleared by both Chiefs’ medical staff and an independent neurologist before he can play.
NFL Concussion Protocol, Explained
In order to treat head injuries with standard procedure, the NFL has a five-step concussion protocol that every team must follow when a player is diagnosed with a concussion. This ensures that no team / player receives preferential and potentially dangerous treatment in the event of a rushed return to action following a head injury.
The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee developed the protocol in 2011, and it is reviewed annually by independent and NFL-affiliated physicians and scientists to ensure that identification, the diagnosis and treatment of concussions conforms to current medical standards.
The following five steps of the concussion protocol involve the official NFL wording of his July 2020 revisions to the return to participation protocol:
Stage 1: Activity limited by symptoms
The player is prescribed to rest, limit or, if necessary, avoid activities (physical and cognitive) which increase or worsen the symptoms. Under the supervision of athletic training personnel, limited stretching and balance training may be introduced, progressing to light aerobic exercise, all as tolerated.
Step 2: Aerobic exercise
Under the direct supervision of the team’s medical staff, the player must begin graduated cardiovascular exercise and may also engage in dynamic stretching and balance training. Neo-cognitive and equilibrium tests can be administered after the end of phase two and the results should be interpreted as returning to baseline.
Step 3: Football specific exercise
The player continues with supervised cardiovascular exercises which are augmented and can mimic sport specific activities, and supervised strength training is introduced. Players are allowed to train with the team in sport-specific drills for 30 minutes or less with continuous and careful monitoring.
Step 4: Non-contact club training exercises
The player continues cardiovascular training, strength and balance, team sport-specific exercises, and participates in non-contact soccer activities (for example, throwing, catching, running and other activities specific to his position). Neurocognitive and balance testing should be performed no later than the end of phase four, with results interpreted as back to baseline.
Step 5: Complete football activity / Clearance
Upon authorization from the club doctor for a full football activity involving contact, the player must be examined by the independent neurological consultant (INC) assigned to his club. If the INC agrees with the club doctor that the player’s concussion has been resolved, he can participate in his club’s training or next game.
Who should rid Patrick Mahomes of a concussion?
As can be seen in step five above, Mahomes needs to be cleared by two separate entities to return to full training and game action. First, the chiefs’ medical staff need to clear Mahaomes, basically saying that he progressed through the first four stages of the concussion protocol and passed all tests along the way.
After the Kansas City medical staff clear Mahomes, he must also be cleared by an independent neurological consultant, essentially a brain expert who is not employed by the team and therefore can make decisions regardless of their impact. on the heads in the field. If Mahomes is also cleared by this independent consultant, he can return to full training and play activity.