TUCSON, Ariz. - As the Wildcats take the field this year; safety continues to be a priority for trainers and medical staff.
Randy Cohen is the University of Arizona's Associate Athletics Director for Medical Services, he says he watches football games in a different way, closely paying attention to head injuries and any signs that show that a player isn't OK.
"Did they get up slow, did they hold their face mask, shake their helmet, do they go to the wrong side of the huddle, many small things," Cohen said.
If a player shows any signs, the most important thing to do is take them off the field immediately and make an initial assessment, which can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, Cohen explained. During that assessment, doctors evaluate areas that are or can potentially be affected by the head injury; such as vision, the nervous and energy system and blood pressure.
"The days of let's go lay in a dark room and when you feel back to normal, we will start progressing you back to activity, that's not how you treat any injury and definitely not the brain," Cohen added.
If doctors confirm a player has a concussion, each case is handled differently. The treatment can last a couple of days to several weeks and even months, he said. When the injured players are symptom-free and their tests are normal, then they are worked back into the sport, " We make sure their reaction time is normal, processing of the information is normal before you allow them back to play," he explained. The current protocol doesn’t compromise the safety of a student-athlete.