NFL Concussion Protocol Guide

The NFL concussion protocol guide explains everything you need to know about concussions including the return to play protocol in both college football and youth sports. There have been a number of changes to the NFL protocol for the 2017 season and we have all the information on this page of our site.

NFL Concussion Protocol Changes

Several changes have been made to the NFL concussion management and treatment for the 2017 season. This includes having an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant present at the league command center for all games. This change to the protocol has been back by the players union and the head, neck and spine committee. The chief medical officer of the NFL stated that they are always looking at the protocol and how it is applied, and how to make it better.

The consultant at the command centre will monitor the games and assist in implementing the protocol. Duties will include contacting team medical staffs on the sidelines to ensure they are aware of any situations as they develop. An additional neurotrauma consultant will be at all the NFL playoff games as well as the Super Bowl.

Other changes to the NFL concussion protocol include:

  • All impact seizures will be treated as a loss of consciousness and force removal of a player from the game.
  • A player who stumbles or falls to the ground trying to stand will be sent directly to the locker room for examination. If the player passes the concussion protocol return to play exam they will be allowed to return to the game.
  • Injured players are to be taken directly to a member of the medical team for concussion assessment.
  • All players who have a concussion evaluation in any game will have a follow-up evaluation the following day by a member of the medical team.

The NFL received a $100,000 fine after a controversial injury involving Houston quarterback Tom Savage and a misstep in the concussion protocol for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and this brought about the new changes.

NFL Concussion Protocol Five Step Process

The NFL concussion protocol is a five-step process that takes a player from a head injury to a return to play. We have these steps laid out below and if you require any further information you can visit the official NFL website.

  1. Rest and Recovery: Step 1 involves taking physical and cognitive rest. According to the NFL's return to play concussion protocol, players have to rest until their signs and symptoms and neurologic examination return to baseline status. During step 1 players can stretch and work on their balance but they are not allowed to physically push themselves beyond this. During step 1 players must also limit or avoid electronics, social media, and team meetings until symptoms subside.
  2. Light aerobic exercise: Step 2 involves activities like using a stationary bike, light running on a treadmill, and more active stretching. The team medical staff will gradually increase a player's workload but will stop all activities if concussion-related symptoms resurface. In step 2 players are also allowed to return to regular team meetings and study film.
  3. More aerobic exercise and the introduction of strength training: Step 3 builds up player activity levels and includes weightlifting. The concussion protocol states that once a player has demonstrated his ability to engage in cardiovascular exercise and supervised strength training without recurrence of symptoms, he may move to step 4.
  4. Football specific activities: In step 4 players can participate in non-contact drills including throwing, catching, and running. There can be no contact with other players or objects including tackling dummies or sledges. If players tolerate this level of activity without recurrence of symptoms, they move to step 5.
  5. Full football activity and clearance: Step 5 allows players to resume practicing without any limitations. After the team physician clears a player to compete, an independent neurological consultant will examine the player. The independent neurological consultant must be provided with a copy of all relevant reports and tests including the player's neurocognitive tests and interpretations. If this consultant agrees with the team physician the player can return to play in the next game.

Concussion Protocol Return to Play Guidelines

Ever wondered if sportsbetting affects players with concussion?. Whether it's the NFL, college football concussions, or youth sports concussion, there are guidelines and protocols that must be adhered to. These are in place to keep players safe and ensure that no permanent brain injuries are sustained. Contact sports such as football and hockey leave players vulnerable to concussion and having return to play concussion protocol in place means that any head injuries are assessed and treated accordingly. A player may say they're fine but adrenaline and excitement about playing in a game can damper the effects of concussion and many symptoms may not appear straight away. Having a concussion protocol in place makes sure that any player who suffers a blow to the head is assessed and treated and any long-term damage is avoided.