An independent analysis

Independent neurologists could help better diagnose concussions in college athletics.

Editorial board

 

In recent years, professional sports leagues including the NFL and the NHL have received criticism due to their historically lax policies on head injuries. However, both leagues now seem to realize the severity of these injuries and the need to act, and have thus created stricter policies and are dedicating more resources to health research.

A Frontline article summarizing concussion-related events of the 2012-13 NFL season stated that the NFL Players Association announced it would “partner with Harvard University for a 10-year, $100 million study of 1,000 retired players.” The article also reported that Jeff Pash, the NFL’s general counsel, says the league expects to have independent neurologists on the sidelines during games to help diagnose concussions.

This would be an appropriate addition, as a Washington Post article published Jan. 31 reported that nearly four out of five players do not trust their team’s medical staff. New rules coming out of an NHL general manager’s meeting in 2011 included that players should be examined by a doctor in the locker room after showing concussion symptoms.

Unfortunately, the NCAA still has some catch-up to do with its concussion policy, or lack of a comprehensive one. In addition to an earlier call by the Editorial Board for a more defined concussion policy, the NCAA and the colleges it oversees should consider hiring independent concussion experts as well, in order to ensure the safety and health of student-athletes.

It is important that an overextended medical staff does not overlook a medical condition as serious as a concussion. A degree won’t do college athletes much good if their mental health is taking a back seat to ticket sales and legacy building.