NFL concussion protocol under scrutiny

HOUSTON (KGO) -- The NFL and the Houston Texans are under fire after the Texans' quarterback Tom Savage hit hard and left twitching in the end zone.

A quick medical exam on the sidelines sent Savage back into the fray. A short time later he was pulled from the game and diagnosed with a concussion.

Chris Nowinski is founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which studies the debilitating impact of repeated blows to the heads of football players. He's been part of the push to get the NFL to recognize the degenerative brain disease CTE. He's hoping this will be a moment of reckoning.

"Change is made through a series of watershed moments and this needs to be one of them," Nowinski said.

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This year the league updated it's protocols for keeping players from returning to the field, including being knocked out, confusion, and amnesia, but Nowinski, suggests even more must be done.

"What Tom Savage showed is what's called offensive response. His arms were sticking straight out which is a sign of brain injury that should be on the list of why you can't go back in the game ever," Nowinski said.

Dr. Rishi Wadhwa is a neurosurgeon at UCSF, part of the medical team on the sidelines for NFL games including the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. He says what happened to Tom Savage is worrisome but believes progress is being made.
"I think the NFL has made good efforts in having a sustained concussion protocol. however things like this can and do happen, it's unfortunate. I am a little worried but I think the NFL will make strides to ensure this doesn't happen again," Wadhwa said.

The League and the Players' Union are investigating the incident to see if proper procedures were followed or if the protocol's need to be revised.
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