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Head Athletic Trainer Rick Burkholder

Posted Dec 7, 2012

Opening Remarks: "An update on (DT) Mike Patterson. Mike Patterson has what looks to be viral pneumonia. He came to me sick yesterday morning. (I) sent him to our doctor’s office, Dr. Gary Dorshimer. They admitted him to the hospital yesterday and he’s doing fine. He’s stable. He’s there now. We’re waiting on testing and I think he’s going to be fine. I just want to mention that it has nothing to do with his previous condition of the AVM (arteriovenous malformation). I know that’s what will come up. He just got sick and he ended up with pneumonia. It’s just one of those things, so we put him in the hospital where he could get the best care and we can keep an eye on him and we’ll see how he does over the next couple of days. So that’s Mike.

"With the two concussion guys we’ve updated the last couple of weeks: With both (RB) LeSean (McCoy) and (QB) Michael Vick, they’re both in phase four of my program. As far as Michael Vick is concerned with his ImPACT testing, it’s still at the same place that it was before so his reaction time is off a little bit. We’ve picked up some other rehab things from the people at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. We’re working on it and that’s where he’s at. With LeSean, LeSean has symptoms, so he gets those after some high periods of activity and then, because of that, I had him evaluated by the people in Pittsburgh earlier in the week and we have some rehab stuff we’re doing with them.

"Both of those guys are doing activity at an extremely high level. For instance, today, we went out and we ran 15 100-yard sprints with 50-yard walks in between so their heart rates are high. They’re doing some real intense work in the weight room with Barry Rubin, our strength coach. They’re doing some stuff where they’re doing some things where their head changes in balance movement like planks with reach-unders and stuff like that. They’re doing fine with that. With Michael, he’s doing absolutely fine with it. With LeSean, he gets some symptoms at night, so we’ve just got to keep an eye on those two things. They’re alright with me. They’re doing great. They’re just not cleared for activity yet. They both had ImPACT testing today. I don’t have the results of it because it’s been shipped off to Pittsburgh, but they’re both doing fine in the rehab process. Nothing alarming to me. You’re probably going to ask, ‘Well, why did you send him to Pittsburgh?’ I just didn’t like the way things were adding up. I didn’t like how he was getting symptoms at night and not during the day. I just wanted him to be checked out more. That’s kind of where we’re at with those two guys. Like I said, they’re both in phase four. We’re waiting to go to phase five and phase five, as you guys remember, is contact, so I’m just waiting until they get less symptoms and a little bit better on their reaction time before I move them into that phase."

On what types of symptoms RB LeSean McCoy is showing: "He’s very tired at night. When I got back here Monday after the game in Dallas, he told me he had a headache earlier Sunday. I didn’t see him Sunday, obviously; the last time I saw him was Saturday and he got a headache Sunday, so that was a little concerning to me that he had this headache and he’s been so tired at night. So I called Pittsburgh and they said, ‘Let’s take a look at him.’ We sent him out there and went through that process. But it happens and I’m not overly concerned about either of them."

On the process for players when they go to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: "They do a whole another evaluation. They do ImPACT testing there, they do some pen and paper testing. They take them through a hard workout. They have some other devices there, where they have some infrared goggles that they can look at their eye movement and track that kind of thing. They have a neuro-ophthamologist that they can see there, so they have some more intense testing. Nothing came back like big red flags for those guys. We just needed to change their rehab a little bit."

On why Vick is stuck in phase four of the rehab: "It’s just something with his eyes. I think, like I said last time, if you look at some of the other athletes in this town, because that’s what you guys cover, they’ve probably had similar issues. If you can’t get your eyes totally back, it’s hard to do the reaction-time stuff. We’re working on that .We’re working on his tracking and what we call convergence and stuff like that and it’ll come."

On whether Vick has improved on his reaction-time tests but is still short of passing: "That’s a great question. He hasn’t really improved on the ImPACT testing in terms of time. He did improve a little bit from the last time I talked to you, but he’s in kind of a stagnant phase and I don’t know about today. It looked like it was about the same. But he’s improved in rehab, so the things that I do with him where he tracks his eyes, he’s better at it."

On the other athletes he reference as having similar symptoms with concussions: "I’m not going to give you names. I’m just saying do your homework. There’s other people in this town that have had prolonged concussions."

On at what point he gets concerned that symptoms will not go away for a player: "We’re dealing with the people in Pittsburgh and we’re dealing with Dr. Dorshimer and we’re dealing with all our experts here and everybody feels strongly that they’ll go away. If they don’t, that’s just one of those things where we step in. We’re not going to certainly judge that right now. We have weeks to go in this season and an offseason and all that kind of stuff, so I think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s just that we’ve got to fine-tune our rehab."

On whether there is a time-table for when an alarm goes off in his head that symptoms may not go away: "No."

On whether either Vick or McCoy can be ruled out for the Cincinnati game: "No, I would never do that. I’m dealing with this week. I haven’t even gotten to next week yet, but I’ll see what their ImPACT test is today, we’ll do rehab tomorrow, we’ll ImPACT test them again Monday and if things are better with Mike and LeSean’s symptoms are down, we’ll go to the next step which is see the independent (neurologist) and potentially they can play. I’ve got a lot to do right now between now and Sunday afternoon."

On the mindset of both Vick and McCoy: "I don’t think they’re frustrated that it’s taking so long. I think it’s frustrating for them not to be able to play with their teammates right now. I think that they understand my process because I’ve laid it out to them and they also understand that we’re protecting them to make sure that they’re not going into another phase before it’s time."

On whether there could be a further diagnosis on top of the viral pneumonia for DT Mike Patterson: "Absolutely. There are some tests that they have to run on him that take 24 hours. We think it’s viral pneumonia right now. That’s where it’s at. If anything changes, we’ll give you an update."

On whether Patterson will be weak once he recovers from his illness: "Yeah, we’ll deal with that Monday. Right now, we’re letting the hospital people and Dr. Dorshimer take care of him and we’ll see what happens."

On whether it will take Vick and McCoy a while to get back into football shape after they are cleared to practice: "That’s a great question. Any injury takes a while, but they’ve been training hard. Like I said, they went out and ran 15 100 (yard dashes) today which that’s a lot of a work. I have a little basketball hoop in the training room and I know it doesn’t sound like much but that’s a wide-open space and they’ve been able to play some one-on-one and get their heart rates high and get their lateral movement going. Some of the rehab stuff we’re doing with them, in terms of balance, they’re doing a lot of offseason conditioning type stuff, so we’re hoping that it can transfer, but we don’t know that. They’ll have to practice and we’ll have to see how they are at practice and see what their timing’s like and all that. Then, that’s really up to the coaches. All I can do is get them back to that point."

On whether McCoy has passed the ImPACT test: "Well, his is interesting because last week, I told you he was right there with the ImPACT. One of the things they did in Pittsburgh was they created some symptoms for him and then he didn’t do quite as well. When he has a night where he has symptoms like Monday, he had symptoms on Sunday, then Monday, he didn’t do as well. So, it’s a hard pass or fail with him because when he stirs up symptoms, he doesn’t do as well. When he’s been fatigued and he can’t get out of that fatigue mode, he struggles with it. So, I told you last week that he was there but we didn’t call it a pass because he had symptoms. We’re still in that phase."

On what doctors say about the susceptibility of more concussions down the road following concussions as serious as the ones Vick and McCoy suffered: "I don’t know that there’s tons of research on it right now and they’re studying all that kind of stuff. Different people have different opinions. Right now, with the way it is, we think that if they get rid of these symptoms, or LeSean gets rid of his symptoms and Mike gets his fine-motor skill back, that they’ll be alright to return this year and not have too many problems. But we’ll study all that and rely on the experts."

On whether the other defensive linemen are feeling fine after sharing close quarters with Patterson: "Everybody’s alright right now. But it’s certainly something that we all look at. Anytime anybody’s sick, we live in a pack here so we’re all in airplanes and meeting rooms and the cafeteria, so we’ll keep an eye on it. I think we’re alright right now."

On whether Patterson is traveling with the team Saturday: "No, he’s in the hospital right now."

On whether he thinks about the long-term effects of concussions on Vick: "I think we always have to consider that with every player that we have and with Mike, he’s made enough progress where we’re not terribly concerned with him. We’re just letting the progress take the system as it goes and we’ll see. We’ll see how he does. I’m not overly worried about it, no."

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