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After Tua's scary injury, Omaha doctor stresses importance of identifying brain injuries immediately

Posted at 7:04 PM, Sep 30, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The hit took down and hospitalized Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa Thursday night.

He was injured during a game Sunday, as well.

Dolphins Bengals Football
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is attended to by medical staff after being sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou during an NFL football game, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

What happens after even just one hit?

"If we hear the helmets click, I'm always worried about the kids and what they are going to do next," said Michaela Marx, a parent.

Another football mom, Donna Knickerbocker, said: "We watch him pretty closely, we keep an eye on him and his attitude changes, or if there is any kind of change in his personality."

Sports medicine doctor Kody Moffatt at Children's Hospital and Medical Center said head injuries in a sport like football don't have to be a hit directly to the head to be concerning.

"The biggest thing is early identification," Moffatt said. "Athletic trainers and sports medicine staff across the city are all very adept at that injury and they are looking for that."

Moffatt said the staff in the area are good about quickly pulling players off the field. He said about half of teenagers get better in about two weeks. In four weeks, it's 90%.

And because these are student athletes, they focus on getting them back to learning in the classroom before they go back on the field.

"We are not just dealing with academic success this semester, we are dealing with long-term employability for families," Moffatt said.

Learn more: What happens in the NFL's concussion protocol?

But Moffatt said a second hit is when the long-term effect can occur.

"The worst part about concussions that we see are people who are concussed, stay in the sport and the head continues to get hit," Moffatt said.

Those long-term effects include struggling to focus, learn and think straight. For Knickerbocker she said it was hard to watch what happened to Tagovailoa Thursday.

"It's almost just unreal to see that reaction," Knickerbocker said.

She hopes the best for her son and other competitors.

"I love the sport and I'm happy to see the boys get to play, I hope they all stay safe," Knickerbocker said.

As for Tagovailoa, a joint investigation between the NFL and the league's players association is underway. They'll investigate if the team broke protocols or if protocols need to be updated. The Dolphins are adamant they followed the rules.

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