Breaking down the NFL’s concussion protocol

NFL Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSNT) – Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid says quarterback Patrick Mahomes is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, following his exit Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Mahomes left the game in the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Round game after colliding with Browns player Mack Wilson.

Mahomes remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol Monday and Reid declined to say when exactly he’ll be cleared.

“Because of the protocol it’s a no-brainer,” Reid explained of the decision, which rests not in his hands but those of team doctors and outside experts. “You don’t even have to think about it. You just go forward. You have an answer if he’s there and if he’s not there. I can’t tell you an answer from a medical standpoint. I just don’t know.”

However, Reid said Mahomes might have returned to the game before the updated concussion protocol.

“There was a chance back in the day that Patrick (Mahomes) comes back in and this is a way of protecting, I think, the player most of all,” Reid said. “I think Patrick could tell you, you saw him run up the tunnel. By the time he got to that point he was feeling pretty good, but there’s a certain protocol that you have to follow and that takes it out of the trainer’s hand and the player’s hand and doctor’s hand.”

So, how soon will Chiefs kingdom know if Mahomes is cleared to play in the AFC Championship against the Browns?

According to the NFL’s Return-To-Participation Protocol, he needs to go through a five-step process:

  • Symptom Limited Activity
    • Rest, limiting or avoiding activities that increase or aggravate symptoms.
  • Aerobic Exercise
    • The player can begin cardiovascular exercise and can also do dynamic stretching and balance training under the direct oversight of the team’s medical staff.
  • Football Specific Exercise
    • The player continues with supervised cardiovascular exercises that are increased and may mimic football-specific exercise.
  • Club-Based Non-Contact Training Drills
    • The player continues all of the above and can participate in non-contact football drills such as throwing, catching, running and other position-specific activities.
  • Full Football Activity/Clearance
    • After the team’s doctor clears the player for full football activity, the player has to be examined by the Independent Neurological Consultant assigned to the team.

You can read the full details below.

Photo from NFL.com

The player has to be cleared by the Independent Neurological Consultant before returning to contact practice or play in an NFL game. As for now, Reid said they’re taking it day by day.

You can read the NFL’s Concussion Protocol & Return-to-Participation Protocol here.

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