Tua Tagovailoa concussion: What is fencing response? What happened to Miami Dolphins quarterback's fingers after injury in NFL game?

The shocking moment Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was injured by Cincinnati defensive lineman Josh Tupou was laid bare to see for NFL fans live on TV, but it has raised a number of questions around player safety.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the field on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital in Cincinnati.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the field on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital in Cincinnati.

Tua was pulled to the ground and hit his head on the turf during the first half of the week four match against the Bengals, which came just four days after he was injured previously.

The third year player had been having a breakout year until he was brought down at Paycor Stadium with such force that his head was jerked against the ground.

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Then after failing to get up, he rolled over and began showing some abnormal posturing which many believe was a clear sign of fencing response.

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Tua was then taken by ambulance to a hospital in Cincinnati for further evaluation. The Miami Dolphins say he was later released and was scheduled to travel home with the team.

What is fencing response?

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Fencing response is an odd position the arms may move to after receiving a concussion. Often they are held up in the air for several seconds after the impact.

It takes his name from the sport of fencing, where someone who has just received a concussion may resemble a fencer in the ‘en garde’ position.

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Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took the field against Cincinnati despite being injured against the Buffalo Bills just four days earlier.

What happened with Tua Tagovailoa’s fingers?

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Immediately after he was sacked, Tua rolled over and raised his forearms, stretching his fingers out in an unusual position. This is thought to be a type of fencing response.

Was this abnormal posturing an indication of traumatic brain injury?

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Abnormal posturing can be a sign of severe brain injury, where some muscles are briefly incapacitated, while the opposing one are still contracting, possibly in response to pain. Many who were watching the game were concerned that this was the case with Tua.

Why have concerns been raised about second impact syndrome?

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Just four days earlier, while playing against the Buffalo Bills, Tua was pushed to the ground and hit the back of his head against the ground. After standing up and jogging several steps, he suddenly appeared woozy and fell to the ground. He once more got up and tried to run towards the huddle once more before stumbling and being caught by his teammates.

He was then taken out of the game and checked over while Miami Dolphins back-up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater came into the game, though Tua later returned to lead the Dolphins to a win.

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However, the Dolphins later said concussion protocols were followed and Tua had merely suffered from a back injury.

What is NFL concussion protocol?

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The National Football League has a series of tests which must be undertaken by any player suspected of having a concussion. The idea is that should they fail then the player is pulled from active duty until they can clear concussion protocols.

These are designed to protect players against chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder which can cause depression, anxiety, memory loss, and dementia after repeated head injuries.

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It is a five step process which can take up to a week or more to pass through. This is why there have been questions raised about how Tua was cleared so quickly to return to action after collapsing against the Bills four days earlier.

What is Tua Tagovailoa’s current status?

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The player was released from hospital and apparently flew home with the rest of the team. He is said to have full feeling in all limbs and is conscious.

However, there is a strong chance he will not play against the New York Jets next week.

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