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December 29, 2017

Delaware County native's injury sparks changes to the NFL's concussion protocol

NFL Concussions
Tom Savage Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage reacts after being sacked in a 26-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium on Dec. 10.

A disturbing incident earlier this month involving Delaware County product and Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage recently sparked a litany of changes to the league's concussion protocol.

Savage looked dazed with both of his arms shaking in an upright position after he was driven to the ground by defensive end Elvis Dumervil in the second quarter of a 26-16 loss to the San Fransisco 49ers on Dec. 10.

The Springfield native and 2010 Cardinal O'Hara graduate was evaluated in the team's medical tent after the disturbing incident, but he was allowed to return for the next series. He threw a pair of incompletions on that drive before being evaluated a second time, after which it was determined that Savage had a concussion.

The NFL did not fine the Texans on Friday for their handling of Savage, who was determined to have had a concussion after being evaluated a second time and missed the remainder of the game. The team's doctors ultimately did not see slow-motion video showing Savage's reaction to the hit, the league and its players' union said Friday in a joint statement

After Savage returned to the field, doctors later saw symptoms that had he had not exhibited during the first evaluation and took him to the locker room. He has since been placed on injured reserve and is done for the season.

The late-season changes, announced on Sunday, include placing an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant in the league's command center in New York City for all games and mandating that all players who show signs of a seizure, like Savage did, be pulled for the remainder of the game.

The following changes will also be put in place:

• Impact seizure and fencing responses are each independent signs of loss of consciousness and represent "no go" criteria under the current protocol. Players who display either of these signs at any time shall be removed from play and may not return to the game.

• A player who stumbles and/or falls to the ground when trying to stand, unrelated to an orthopedic injury, should be sent directly to the locker room to undergo the standard locker room exam. If he passes all phases of this exam and is cleared by the UNC and the team MD in charge of concussion care then the player could return to the game.

• Officials, teammates, and coaching staffs are instructed to take an injured player directly to a member of the medical team for a concussion assessment.

• All players who undergo any concussion evaluation on game day shall have a follow-up evaluation conducted the following day by a member of the medical staff.

• The implementation of a pilot program utilizing a centralized UNC based at the league office to monitor the broadcast feeds of all games. The UNC will contact the team medical staff on the sideline to ensure it is aware of the play's video.

• A third UNC will available at all playoff games and the Super Bowl.

More on the changes can be found here.

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