State-of-the-art concussion testing should make its way to NFL sidelines in 2013

Posted Mar 3, 2013

A new aspect of sideline and locker room concussion testing will incorporate a preseason baseline test for comparison by independent doctors

Both the NFL and the NFLPA agree there's a benefit to having independent neurologists on the sidelines during games in 2013 and it looks like that will become a reality.

Another aspect of concussion testing - as far as diagnosing potential brain injuries on the sideline and in the locker room - that will be different next season is a new state-of-the-art concussion protocol using iPads.

Peter KingDuring a media session at the NFL Combine, Dr. Stanley Herring and Dr. Margot Putukian, both members of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, demonstrated the new sideline concussion protocol that will allow doctors and trainers to test players believed to have suffered a concussion and compare that in real time with the "baseline" data for a better on-field diagnosis.

"We want to be able to walk on the sidline and know how the player performed when he was not concussed," Herring said.

"We want to have that data available to us. And then we have a standardized exam that we either do on the sideline or in the locker room or before the player goes home. It's helpful to have baseline data to compare."

Essentially, each player will go through the exam before the season, which ranges from balance tests to having to remember words read to them to citing the alphabet and number sequences.

Those scores are used as a baseline for every player and then compared to the score performed on the sideline or in the locker room to see if a player is permitted to return to the game. All of it is done in real time using an iPad.

"I will tell you that no test is perfect," Herring said. "Some athletes can perfectly pass all of this and still be concussed. This is our effort to help standardize an approach to a very challenging diagnosis."