‘Are You OK?’ Isn’t a Medical Test for TBI
Many are asking whether University of Arizona quarterback Matt Scott had a concussion, and even more are asking if Coach Rich Rodriguez put Scott in more danger by keeping him on the field after what seemed to be a head injury.
On Monday, October 29th, Rodriguez commented on the situation, and cleared little up.
Scott took a hard hit to the head during a game against USC over the weekend, and soon after began vomiting, a classic sign of a traumatic brain injury. You can see a video of the specific hit here.
Following Scott’s collision and subsequent vomiting, Arizona took a time out, but Rodriguez kept Scott in the game, despite NCAA instructions for all coaches to immediately remove any player with a possible head injury from play for proper evaluation.
What Rodriguez had to say Monday makes it very clear Scott wasn’t properly evaluated. “When I was there talking to Matt about the next play — actually the next two or three plays that we were calling — I believe the trainer was behind me or listening. I was just talking to Matt. ‘Are you OK?’ ‘Yes.’”
It wasn’t until after the next touchdown, several minutes later, that Scott was finally pulled to the sideline to be properly evaluated. Clearly, the more trained evaluators recognized a serious injury, because Scott did not return for the rest of the game.
Rodriguez defended his actions by saying the quarterback was pulled for exhaustion or being “winded” and the vomiting was from nausea that Scott had apparently been feeling all game.
Even if that is all true, Arizona still messed up when they didn’t properly evaluate Scott immediately. You won’t find “Are you ok?” as a suggested test for a concussion in any medical book, and one of the biggest issues with diagnosing concussions is the patients are generally not in a proper state to judge their own condition.
This is why we have objective tests. Trainers and doctors are taught to use tests such as making the player stand on one leg, which tests balance, or do simple math problems and remember certain words or numbers for a period of time to test their mental abilities.
Dan Diamond, reporter for Forbes, attempted to get comments from the school, but was denied any new information. Sadly, it appears Scott didn’t get any real concussion test at least until he was pulled, several minutes after the initial injury.
Being put at risk for a second brain injury immediately after the first is one of the most dangerous things a person can do for the health of their brain. Scott claims he doesn’t think he had a concussion, but that doesn’t negate the possible danger he could have been put in.
What matters is “Are you okay?” is in no way a proper test, and Scott was at the center of activities that depict the exact worries medical professionals have with TBI and football. It is never easy to get pulled onto the sidelines, but too many athletes are willing to jeapordize their own health for the glory of staying on the field, and that can have very serious long term consequences.