One week into the 2010 NFL regular season, and the Philadelphia Eagles are already dealing with several significant injuries. ESPN.com is reporting today that both quarterback Kevin Kolb and linebacker Stewart Bradley suffered concussions in the team’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. In addition, fullback Leonard Weaver reportedly suffered a torn ACL in his knee, and center Jamaal Jackson suffered a torn triceps tendon in his elbow.
According to the article on ESPN.com, Kolb was injured in the second quarter when he was tackled and his head hit the ground. Stewart’s head reportedly collided with a teammate’s thigh, causing the concussion. The team’s medical staff evaluated both players, and both returned to play briefly. They were later taken out of the game, and they did not return.
While I obviously don’t have direct knowledge of the situation with those two players, the sequence of events is not uncommon. While the utmost care in evaluating and treating concussions is necessary at all times, it sounds like the medical staff did everything right. It is important for a physician evaluating a player with a head injury to ensure that he has completely recovered prior to returning to play. This evaluation involves many different features, including assessing the player’s memory and mental status, neurologic function, orientation, and ability to perform his duties on the field with no lingering side effects. Knowing when the athlete has completely recovered is an inexact science. I imagine that the Eagles’ physicians did all the tests that they could to ensure that both Kolb and Stewart had no symptoms prior to being put back into the game. They likely monitored the players closely when they did go back, and they pulled the players quickly when they sensed that the players might have had lingering effects of the injuries.
Head coach Andy Reid suggested that was the course of events. “All the questions that they answered with the doctors registered well,” Reid said. “But as it went on, they weren’t feeling well, so we took them out.” I expect that the doctors will follow the athletes closely over the next few days, looking for symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, and will perform serial neurologic exams in order to determine when to clear them to practice.
Weaver reportedly suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and was immediately helped off the field. Reports even during and early after the game suggested that the Eagles feared that Weaver had torn his ACL. I imagine that the doctors were able to make this diagnosis by physical exam, although I expect they will likely obtain an MRI today to confirm the injury and assess any other damage done. I imagine he will undergo surgical reconstruction in the next 2 to 3 weeks.
Finally Jackson has been diagnosed with a torn triceps tendon, according to the report. Although that is an uncommon injury, it is a very serious one. If the report is true, Jackson will need surgery to repair the tendon back down to bone. Although the surgery is an outpatient procedure, the surgeon has to get the tendon to heal in the proper position prior to starting elbow motion and strengthening. The overall process can take many months, so I expect that Jackson will miss the rest of the season.