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Head Athletic Trainer Rick Burkholder

Posted Nov 16, 2012

Opening Remarks: "As you guys know from the past, we have a process that we go through with all of our concussions. I thought I would just take you through some of the process that we’re going through now with Michael on why we decided to rule him as out today. With this process, the first thing we look at is whether he has symptoms. Right now, he currently has symptoms. He’s had symptoms all week since the game. He’s had a headache, which has gotten better during the week. He’s foggy. He’s not very alert right now in terms of he just doesn’t have that energy. He’s tired all the time, he’s slept a lot, and he’s not getting rid of that fatigue. I would consider him heavy eyed. When I talk to him, he’s just not the Michael Vick that I know when he’s healthy. For that reason, our process stays at that phase one that I talked to you guys about last year when I went through it with Michael. He does have symptoms.

"The one thing that we look at is that we want to see whether his cognitive function is down. We do that through impact testing. He did take an impact test today. He’s below baseline, so that’s another indicator that he’s not ready to play. We did it today knowing that we would have three or four days before we test him again. It’s an indicator for us to give it to him again Monday and see where he’s at. We would normally do an exercise challenge, and that’s a three or four phase program there that involves him returning to practice once he achieves some of those things like riding the bike at 30-40 percent, and then we’d increase it to 40-60 percent, and then 60-80, and then get him back to practice. He’s not even there right now because he has too many symptoms for us to exercise him. Then, we’d have to go into the independent neurologist, which all of you guys have talked about but that’s down the road.

"The final thing would be for him to sit with Dr. (Gary) Dorshimer, our team physician who is our concussion expert, who knows Michael very well and has been with Michael through everything that he has had in his career here, and was with him on Sunday on the sidelines. Right now, we’re early on in the process. We are still in what I would consider phase one. I’ll see Michael again tomorrow and do some treatment stuff with him to help him out with his headache. We’ll go from there. Right now, it’s not in Michael’s best interests, the league’s best interests, or our best interests. It’s not even close for him to play this week."

On how concerning Vick’s symptoms are: "As we go through the concussion protocol and the process, I can’t worry about what is going to happen in the future. I have to take it step by step, not gauge whether he is going to play or whether he is going to practice. I have to take his symptoms day by day. I’m concerned about him because he’s hurt, just like the other guys that are hurt. I’m concerned about them. In terms of long term, I’m not even going to judge that. We aren’t judging it. That’s also why we don’t grade these concussions until they are over."

On whether Burkholder thought that this is the progression rate Vick would take at the beginning of the week: "I knew that he had some symptoms Sunday night that didn’t go away right away, which was different than the last concussion he had, but we just took it day by day. That’s part of the process. Coach (Reid) never pressures me into, ‘Is he going to play this week?’ We just can’t (do that) with concussions. What we have to do is take it day by day. Was I concerned Sunday night? Yeah, because he didn’t clear up right away."

On whether Vick’s concussion is more severe than any other that Burkholder has encountered: "They’re all different. Every player is different. The two that he’s had since he’s been with us are different. I don’t know whether it is more significant or not. He’s got a concussion, and that’s significant to me."

On how many concussions Vick has had: "For us, he has had two. I don’t want to go on with what he had in Atlanta because it’s not my records. I have some information from them but it would be inaccurate for me to say how many he had there."

On what Vick will do over the weekend to recover: "Rest. He rests. We try to get him in dark, quiet areas. He’s light sensitive anyway, that’s why he wears the shield. We try to get them in a dark place, quiet, low key. Don’t try to exercise, don’t try to play video games or watch video. Do things that don’t bother you."

On what kind of treatment Vick will receive: "One of the things is, any time that these guys have headaches, we have some treatment in there where we try to take some of the tension off of the neck and shoulders. That seems to help them. He had a pretty bad headache, front and back, Monday when we got in here. Now, it’s down to almost nothing. We’re really working soft tissue. I have some stuff that we do that is really a whole other discussion that we do to help these guys with concussions, a modality that we use with one of the micro currents. Really, this is a rest phase for him."

On Vick’s vision: "His vision is back, other than he is a little light sensitive. I know we reported at the game that his vision – that was one of the first indicators that something was wrong with him because when he brought me over to the bench, the first thing he said was, ‘I can’t see quite right.’ That vision has returned. We’re not sure why his vision was off a little bit. His helmet came down and hit him in the nose. His optic nerve is in the back of your head, and he had a headache front and back so it could’ve been from that. We’re not really sure and it doesn’t matter because it’s gone away. That’s just not one of his symptoms right now. He is light sensitive, but he’s always light sensitive."

On whether Vick’s concussion could have occurred as a result of multiple hits: "I think one of the things that we’re learning about concussions is that not all hard hits are causing concussions and not all hits that you hit the ground, you hit somebody, or it’s helmet to helmet or not helmet – it’s all different. That’s a hard thing to pinpoint. Certainly, I went back and watched everything that he got hit in this game and everything that he got hit in the New Orleans game. I’ve looked at his other hits, and that’s hard to put together. As healthcare professionals, when we start to do that we tread on dangerous water. There has to be a lot more research out there. The NFL is trying very hard to determine that but it’s not out there yet."

On whether Vick will get tested for anything else beyond the realm of having a concussion: "He deals with me and he deals with Dr. Dorshimer. If we thought something else was going on, like maybe he had the flu or something, we’d go that route. Right now, we think it’s all concussion."

On whether Burkholder can determine the length of other phases from this phase: "Not really because we’ve had guys that have come out of phase one immediately, and have been stuck in phase two. I have had guys who have gotten to phase three, and then two weeks later, they couldn’t get out of phase three. There is no way to determine that. We come back here Monday and he could be fine, and then I can progress him through the next couple of phases. You just don’t know, and that’s why you don’t judge or speculate with the coaches when he’ll return. It’s not fair to him and it’s not fair to them. You have to take it day by day, and none of us will do anything crazy then and he won’t have pressure then. All of that kind of stuff."

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