YUKON, Okla. (KFOR) – With the recent injuries to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel, KFOR asked a local athletic trainer about policies in place to ensure safety for players that suffer concussions.

Leander Walker, the head athletic trainer for Yukon High School, said that there are steps in place but the application is not concrete.

“That’s the one thing about concussions, there’s no two that are the same,” said Walker. “It could be six or seven days. It could be, you know, two weeks.”

The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association has guidelines that show six steps that must be followed after a player is diagnosed with a concussion.

Walker said that Yukon High follows medical best practices, which shows a similar six step process as OSSAA.

Yukon’s best practices (daily goals):

  • Stage 1: walking or riding a stationary bike for 20-30 minutes
  • Stage 2: jogging (medium pace) for 20-30 minutes, with some sit-ups, push-ups, and lunge walks
  • Stage 3: running (fast pace) for 20-30 minutes; practice individual drills for 15 minutes; can receive football but only low passes; wear helmet
  • Stage 4: participate in non-contact practice drills (not touching another person); practice team drills, but no hits and not touching another person/blocking dummies
  • Stage 5: Participate in full-contact practice; can resume hits to blocking dummies and teammates
  • Stage 6: Resume full participation in competition

KFOR talked to Dr. Amanda Celii, a trauma surgeon at OU Health, about concussions and their impact on athletes. She said multiple concussions are the main concern.

“There can be some damage to your short term memory,” said Celii.

The doctor echoed Walker about the unpredictability with the recovery time for each player.

“It’s really hard to put an exact time on what that healing is for each individual, because what’s going to come into play is how bad the concussion is, how many times they’ve had a concussion, and then what do they do,” said Celii.

Video of Tua Tagovailoa was shared all over social media. The hit he took left him lying on the ground with his hands and fingers in a stiff curl. He was carted off the field.

As many football fans would agree, the video was disturbing and shows the ugliest side of the sport. Nobody wants to see that, and no parent would want to witness that on Friday nights here in Oklahoma.

Celii did say that brain development matters in the event of a recovery. She highlighted that it is younger brains make a better comeback than older, more developed brains.

“Their brain is still developing and so their brain actually heals a lot faster,” said Celii.

Walker has been practicing for 16 years. He’s noticed a growing awareness to concussions among players, parents and even referees. And he said continued talks about safety only makes the sport safer.

“There needs to be a culture around concussions,” said Walker. “There needs to be an honest discussion between student athletes and whoever is caring for them.”

The athletic trainer said communication opens the door for better care for the athlete.

“We’re there overseeing that process daily, and we’re able to safely be able to put that student athlete back on the field,” said Walker.