Teams Dealing with Concussions by the New Book

The Bulletin—November 30, 2014

It happens dozens of times in every NFL game. There is a fierce collision, or perhaps a running back is slammed to the ground. Most of the time, all the players rise to their feet uneventfully.

Other times, as the pile unravels, a player gets up slowly. His gait may be unsteady.

For decades in the NFL, the operative term for the situation was that someone "got dinged." It was a cute, almost harmless-sounding description of what was often a concussion or a worrying sub-concussive blow to the head.

Based on multiple interviews in the past three months with athletic trainers, players, doctors and head-injury specialists associated with the New York Giants, the following is a window into how the concussion protocol is designed to work on one team.

Go or no go
Under the new concussion protocol, a player suspected of having a head injury is interviewed and put through a battery of tests on the bench by a team doctor. Joining the examination is a neurologist or neurosurgeon hired by the league and not directly affiliated with the team. There are two of these league doctors, known as independent neuro-consultants, assigned to every game — one on each sideline.

"The athletic trainers, who are around these guys six or eight hours a day, can usually spot if someone is not acting normally," said Dr. James Kinderknecht, the Giants' sideline physician who most often conducts the initial evaluation.

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