NFL Players Trying to Beat Leagues Concussion Tests

For the 2011 season, the NFL is enacting tougher rules on concussions. According to Alex Marvez of, a brain-imaging expert warns players might try to subvert concussion testing.

Dr. Daniel Amen, who has treated current and former players for post-concussion symptoms, said some of his clients have confessed to fudging the initial baseline tests administered by NFL teams. By doing so, Amen said those players are seeking quicker clearance to return from any future head injuries they might suffer.

Amen is prevented from disclosing names because of patient-doctor confidentiality.

Baseline testing is the crux of the NFL’s new “go/no-go” concussion policy. Any player who suffers a head injury must now pass a six- to eight-minute test that measures such elements as cognitive thinking, memory, concentration and balance. Those results are then compared to how the player scored in the preseason to determine clearance for an in-game return.

“Players are smart. They know that if they have a concussion and score badly that, ‘I’m going to be taken out. It’s going to affect my livelihood,’ ” Amen said. “I’ve had a number of players tell me they purposely do bad on the testing to start so if they get a concussion it doesn’t affect them.

“We need to educate them that this is a really dumb idea, that it’s the rest of their life that they’re playing with.”

Players could also use Ritalin to pass a concussion test. The drug, which is intended for those suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), changes brain chemistry and may serve as a short-term mask for concussion symptoms.

A story at anonymously quotes one concussion expert as saying that NFL players are already using Ritalin for this purpose.

“Ritalin will work,” Amen said. “It helps boost activity to the front part of the brain. In my mind, it’s not the first thing I would do to rehabilitate a concussion but it would be on the list of things to do.

“Clearly, it’s not approved by the NFL or a smart thing to do and try to cheat the test.”

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