Pete Carroll joined 710ESPN this morning and gave an update/non-update on the Percy Harvin concussion protocol situation. Carroll's simple response:
"I haven't heard on what's going on with the doctors today yet. We won't know for a while."
The assumption here is that if Harvin fails to get on the field today or Saturday, he'll be declared out for Sunday's NFC Championship Game, but Carroll said that there are no rules for that, but there are protocols that they will follow.
Per the NFL's NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee and Bill Bradley, here's the protocol following a game:
The initial treatment is rest, and the team doctors and athletic trainers begin monitoring to see when a player appears to have returned to baseline functioning. Do symptoms return when a player watches practice or when he watches film? Is there return of symptoms with physical activity?
Once symptoms have completely subsided, the player again performs more comprehensive neuropsychological tests interpreted by the team neuropsychologist. There are no pass-fail grades, only additional data for physicians to consider.
If the player is progressing, he would be become eligible for increased physical activity. The workouts would ramp up over a few days if no symptoms occur.
A player feeling normal one day after the game might pass cognitive testing Tuesday and begin a light exercise program, intensify their exercise routine Wednesday, participate in non-contact aspects of practice on Thursday and return to full practice Friday. But if a player has a history of concussions or isn't progressing as quickly as planned, the process moves accordingly.
Obviously, Percy has not yet returned to practice but the possibility remains today.
The medical team increases the exercise regimen to full speed as the player proves he can handle the escalation without incident. Some teams stage controlled contact drills featuring, for example, one lineman blocking another the way they would in an unpadded practice.
"The thing that I think is important here is you don't manage concussions by a calendar," Dr. Herring said. "Some guys may come back in a week. Some guys may come back in six weeks. These steps don't have an expiration date on them. The player's history of injury and other issues come into play."
Once a team doctor signs off on a player's return, the player is evaluated in person by an unaffiliated concussion expert physician approved by both the NFL and NFL Players Association. This unaffiliated expert also must sign off on the player's health before he is allowed to return to play.
"The thinking is that we have done our best work, but an automatic second opinion is built in," Herring said. "We've never had a disagreement, but I would welcome it if we did because we could learn from it. This is a trust issue. We need assurances there is no rush to return to play for any reason."
So the waiting game continues. At this point so late in the week, it seems the odds of seeing Harvin on the field are significantly diminished, but it sounds like it's still up in the air.
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