DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is in the NFL’s concussion protocol after taking a hard hit in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Wilson was on the ground for a moment after the hit and his teammates motioned for the medical staff right away.
“He looked kind of dazed initially,” Dr. Ira Chang, director of neurocritical care at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood said.
She said people in concussion protocol will generally go through a series of exams by doctors.
“Usually, they test cognitive function you know, how your thinking processes and memories are, and will check vision and coordination of vision, things like double vision, dizziness, you know balance as well as motor issues,” Chang said.
The NFL concussion protocol requires a player to gradually increase activity with a five-step program before he is allowed to return to play. Players do not want to come back too quickly.
“There can be even more damage if someone has another concussion right after the first one. That can be more long-lasting and permanent,” she said.
Many players fear that repeated concussions can lead to permanent damage or CTE.
“The idea with the chronic traumatic encephalopathy is that there’s been repeated concussions and injuries that add up cumulatively. So, I do think at a certain point you don’t want to have anymore,” Chang said.
Former Broncos players help in CTE research
Retired Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer and his former teammate and tight end Jeb Putzier both told the Problem Solvers they will likely donate their brains to science to further research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated head hits.
“I have trouble with my eyes. It’s hard for me. I don’t read left to right like that anymore. I was an English literature major and I can’t read anymore,” Putzier said.
The 43-year-old, who retired in 2010 after nine professional seasons, wonders if he’ll have a shorter lifespan because of football injuries, especially concussions.
“More than likely, I mean, I would imagine so,” Putzier said, who added he spends much of his days now doing physical therapy for his body, but especially his brain.