NFL Reveals Findings of Investigation Into Miami Dolphins Handling of Tua Tagovailoa’s Injury

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NFL and NFLPA announced Saturday that the league’s concussion protocols have been modified following an investigation into the handling of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s injury.

Both parties released a joint statement upon wrapping up their investigation.

“The step-by-step process outlined in the concussion protocol was followed, the outcome in this case was not what was intended.”

The new concussion protocols will be in effect starting in Week 5 this Sunday. “Ataxia” is now classified as a mandatory no-go symptom.

“As such, as has been done in previous cases, based on the advice of the parties’ respective medical experts, the Protocol will be modified to enhance the safety of the players,” the statement reads, via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. “Specifically, the term ‘ataxia’ has been added to the mandatory ‘no-go’ symptoms. ‘Ataxia’ is defined as abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.

“In other words, if a player is diagnosed with ‘ataxia’ by any club or neutral physician involved in the application of the Concussion Protocol, he will be prohibited from returning to the game, and will receive the follow-up care required by the Protocol.”

Injury to Tua Tagovailoa Puts Spotlight on NFL’s Concussion Protocols

Tagovailoa suffered head and neck injuries during Miami’s 27-15 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.

Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to a nearby hospital. He flew home with the team after the hospital discharged him. Tagovailoa has movement in all his extremities. The NFL has been facing criticism for its protocols as the injury came four days removed from Tagovailoa taking a late hit against the Buffalo Bills.

Tagovailoa bounced back up but it was immediately clear he was not OK. He had trouble staying on his feet and fell to the ground. He got back up on his own before his teammates grabbed him and restricted him from taking any more steps. The training staff came onto the field and subsequently took him back into the locker room. He passed the concussion check and returned in the second half of Miami’s 21-19 victory.

The Dolphins said that Tagovailoa tweaked his back in the first quarter and the hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano caused it to lock up. The doctor involved in clearing Tagovailoa was fired last week.