UAB Physicians weigh in on Tua’s concussion

Miami Dolphins quaterback Tua Tagovailoa is seen being taken off the field via a stretcher...
Miami Dolphins quaterback Tua Tagovailoa is seen being taken off the field via a stretcher after suffering an injury on September 29, 2022.(MGN Online / CBS Mornings / YouTube)
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 7:20 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - It was really hard to watch. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a second frightening injury during a game against the Bengals, his second in five days.

Reports say Tagovailoa flew home with the team and has tests on his head and neck on Friday.

After he was slammed on the turf, he fell into what seemed to be a “fencing position.” According to doctors, that’s a possible indication of a traumatic brain injury.

Doctors Sara Gould and Asif Irfan were careful not to wade too much into Tua’s medical treatment after what they saw on September 29, but say there was no doubt the quarterback suffered a brain injury.

Tua Tagovailoa’s head injury is the talk of the sports world, painful to watch and one doctors such as Sarah Gould and Asif Irfan are talking about the take-away from it all. Dr. Gould described what actually happens to the brain during a concussion.

“I like to compare to that taking something and shaking it. There’s not necessarily anything broken structurally or damaged, but everything is very chaotic,” said Dr. Gould.

There is immediate confusion, a major headache, chemicals are misfiring. That’s why doctors say it’s difficult to actually see a concussion on imaging, which makes it difficult to diagnose.

“The dysregulation of blood flow to the brain or how sugar might travel to the brain and that regulation doesn’t occur properly,” said Dr. Irfan.

UAB has treated its fair share concussions among athletes and it’s the ‘red flags’ they look for right away.

“We look for a loss of consciousness, amnesia, headaches, balance problems,” said Dr. Irfan.

Typically, a concussed brain settles down after awhile, but first there is a protocol to make sure the brain is correcting itself for a ‘re-boot.’

“It all comes down to international criteria which is a series of tests, testing memory, testing focus, concentration,” said Dr. Gould.

“In general, the rest and recovery period takes about a week with light aerobic exercise,” Dr. Irfan said.

Both physicians declined to say whether Tua suffered a traumatic brain injury or whether he should have played considering he suffered what looked like a serious injury against the Buffalo Bills.

“In terms of permanent brain injury, we hesitate to say what we’ve seen but obviously it’s serious and the sports medicine team will take a look at,” said Dr. Irfan.

“Without seeing how he performed on those battery of tests, it’s difficult to call that,” said Dr. Ghoul.

The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer says Tua was checked for a concussion every day since his last injury before playing last night.


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