Polamalu's "Concussion-Like Symptoms"

Troy Polamalu left the game in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a head injury.  The All Pro safety was held out of the rest of the game with what the Steelers termed “concussion-like symptoms.”

Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game, “Troy had a blow to the head, concussion like symptoms. Again we wanted to err on the side of caution, that’s why we didn’t let him return to the game. I don’t know at this juncture if it was a concussion. I want to be clear there.”  Tomlin will provide an update on Polamalu’s status later today.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Monday that, “Troy Polamalu is fine and will play vs. Bengals. He was clear and lucid by halftime but kept out because of league rules.”

This is the second time this season that Polamalu has suffered from “concussion-like symptoms.”  He left a game on October 16 with what the Steelers eventually called a “mild concussion.”

The problem is, this now represents 2 concussions (regardless of what term or qualifier is applied to it) in a six week period.  As more injuries mount, a player can become more susceptible to repeat injuries.  No one questions Polamalu’s toughness, but this is a question of repeated injuries to the brain.

“When a player doesn’t have sufficient time to recover properly from a concussion, there is an increased chance of repeated injuries,” said Dr. John Sullivan, clinical sports psychologist with over 10 years working with NFL athletes.

Dr. Sullivan added, “Return-to-play decisions need to be made carefully, as repeated concussions can have serious long term consequences –sometimes even years after a player retires.  We continue to learn more and have better tests available in order to make better decisions, but any concussion symptoms should be evaluated carefully.”

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