The NFL Players Association fired a neurologist who assessed Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after Tagovailoa headed home against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. Tagovailoa was allowed to return to that match, only being sent off for the match four days later after sustaining a second head injury.
According to two people with knowledge of the federation’s decision, the players’ union “exercised its right” to remove the doctor, known as an “unaffiliated neuro-injury consultant”, who had consulted the Dolphins team doctor during Tagovailoa’s assessment last Sunday. One said the outside doctor, who had been approved by the NFL and the league, was removed for violating the league’s concussion protocol, which led to the initial diagnosis that Tagovailoa did not have a concussion and he We were allowed to play a few days later.
The dismissal of the doctor, who has not been publicly identified, came two days later Tagovailoa suffers a second header during the Dolphins’ game on Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals, which got him on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. Wounds, broadcast in prime time, spark a lively debate on whether the Dolphins passed concussion protocol during last Sunday’s game.
Immediately after last Sunday’s incident, the players’ union said it had begun an investigation, jointly with the federation, into how doctors assessed Tagovailoa’s health after he head hit the grass in the second quarter of the Dolphins’ home game against the Bills.
After the play ended, Tagovailoa grabbed his helmet, tried to get up, and fell after a few steps. He was taken into the dressing room to be evaluated.
According to the NFL’s concussion protocol, a player cannot return if a team doctor, “in consultation with” an unrelated neurologist, determines that the player’s “gross motor instability” is “Nervous-induced.” However, the team doctor has the final say on the player’s diagnosis.
The Dolphins initially said during last Sunday’s game that Tagovailoa was being evaluated for a possible head injury. The team later said the midfielder had suffered from ankle and back pain, and he was back in the second half.
Dolphin team leader is Dr. John Uribe, a chiropractor who was also a team doctor for the Florida Panthers. It is unclear whether Dr Uribe or another team doctor made the final decision to allow Tagovailoa to return against the Bills.
A federation spokesman said on Wednesday that there was “every indication” that the doctors assessing Tagovailoa were following the league’s concussion protocol. But the league and the players’ union said in a joint statement on Saturday night that the investigation was still inconclusive into possible medical errors or a breach of protocol. They also say that discussions are underway about modifying the concussion protocol within a few days, particularly around the term “overall engine instability”.
The investigation, which will last no more than three weeks, will seek to determine “if a violation occurred and, if so, appropriate disciplinary action.” If the federation and union cannot agree on whether protocol has been violated, a complaint is sent to arbitration.
Neurologists work on the sidelines at every NFL game to assist team doctors if a player is believed to have suffered a head injury. These neurologists often work in hospitals in the home team’s city. They were approved by the league’s medical director, Dr. Allen Sills, and the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Thom Mayer.
The federation’s dismissal of the neurologist could be a symbolic act as team doctors, not unrelated neurologists, make the final decision on whether players can concussion and whether they can return to the game, according to the NFL’s concussion protocol.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the responsibility of diagnosing concussion and deciding whether to return a player to a game remains entirely with the professional judgment of the team chief physician or the team physician designated to administer the TBI, The protocol uses an acronym for traumatic brain injury.
Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, a neurologist may “present his or her own questions or conduct additional testing and will assist in the diagnosis and treatment of concussion.”
In response to a question about the condition of the team doctor or the doctors who evaluated Tagovailoa last Sunday, a Dolphins spokesperson said that the team is letting the joint investigation continue.
The Dolphins did not say Tagovailoa suffered a concussion during last Sunday’s game, but the dismissal of the neurologist suggests the union believes he may have suffered a concussion. Tagovailoa suffered a concussion during Thursday’s game, the Dolphins said. A second concussion that occurs before the previous one is properly healed can lead to significant complications.
On Friday, Dolphins Coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa had a headache, but was feeling better overall. End day, Tagovailoa said on Twitter that he was “feeling much better and focused on recovering so I can get back on the field with my teammates.”
The team did not set a time for Tagovailoa’s return.