Will head injury stop Gronk?

The Nashua Telegraph - Adam Urquhart

With the Super Bowl exactly one week from today, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has a few more days to recover from a concussion he sustained during the AFC Championship game on Jan. 21.

With 1:24 remaining in the second quarter of the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars safety Barry Church’s tackle attempt resulted in a helmet-tohelmet collision with Gronkowski, who was immediately taken to the locker room for medical evaluation. Gronkowski wouldn’t return to the game.

Church, who was flagged unnecessary roughness on the play, was fined $24,309 for the hit. Gronkowski has been in the NFL’s concussion protocol since, suiting up and returning to practice for the first time Saturday morning.

M.D. Chris Couture, a sports medicine physician at Victory Sports Medicine in Merrimack, said most concussions clear in roughly seven to 10 days. With children it may take quite a bit longer for recovery, but 28-year-old Gronkowski is no child.

So Patriots fans may feel some optimism for a full recovery and clearance in time for kickoff.

“Newer evidence is suggesting it’s not uncommon for middle or high school students to take three or four weeks to completely recover when talking about symptoms and neurocognitive function on the ImPACT Test to return to normal,” Couture said of the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. “Oftentimes a kid says they feel better but takes the test and their reaction time is still off.”

ImPACT Testing can provide a baseline tool for concussion management.

“It’s a computerized nerve psychological test, a very brief snapshot of brain function,” Couture said. “So, it measures things like your memory; verbal memory in terms of words, visual memory like designs and that sort of thing, processing speeds like taking in information and coming up with a response and reaction time. It also asks several questions about the symptoms of concussions, but mostly it’s about brain function.”

It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to undergo the test and the idea behind it is to test an athlete or active individual
while they’re normal and then compare that baseline result to that of the one after a concussion.

Couture said ImPACT is a commercial company and the most widely used test of its kind in North America.

“It has its strengths and weaknesses but it’s pretty standard,” Couture said. “It’s the same test given at Nashua
high schools that’s given in our office.”

He said the most common symptom after experiencing a head trauma is a headache. Other symptoms include,
nausea, dizziness and feeling disoriented.

“A lot of area high schools and middle schools will test incoming freshmen and maybe again a couple times
during preseason for a baseline test, and if they do get a concussion, once they seem recovered and normal you retest them,” Couture said. “This is to make sure the brain function has returned back to what the previous
baseline was before letting them go back to contact sports. It mitigates the risk before sending them back before the brain has fully recovered.”

So, an athlete will want to make sure they’ve returned back to their previous baseline before returning to their
sport after a concussion.

Grownkowski’s return to practice Saturday is a good sign that he’s progressing through the proper protocol. Still, only time will tell whether or not he’ll be on the field against the Eagles on Super Bowl Sunday.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph. com.

Posted: 1/30/2018 by The Nashua Telegraph - Craig Urquhart