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Super Bowl 2017: Return-to-play Decision, As Simple As A Drop Of Blood?


The decision to return a player to competition after suffering a concussion is based on a careful evaluation of an athlete’s symptoms, successfully passing established protocols to measure progress after a graded exercise program is underway, as well as understanding that each player is unique when it comes to recovery.

Neurologists, trainers and team physicians use a systematic approach to decide when it is appropriate for an athlete to return to play.

With the Super Bowl just about to kick off, all eyes will be focused on the field. But during the regular season and playoffs, there have been some questionable return-to-play decisions making the public feel less confident that players are being treated appropriately after suffering a concussion.

After a concussion, what is often referred to as “brain slosh” or jarring of the brain in the skull, releases compounds which cross from fluid surrounding the brain into the blood stream. This passage of proteins in the fluid represents an ideal opportunity to sample the degree of injury .

A blood sample of one compound– tau protein–represents an opportunity to assess whether a player is truly making a recovery , as tau protein appears in the serum in elevated concentrations after head trauma, and may thus serve as a marker to determine whether a player is demonstrating clinical improvement.

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