What happens in concussion recovery? Medical Reporter Meg Farris explains.

NEW ORLEANS -- There were some tense moments for both Saints fans and players Sunday as cornerback P.J. Williams lay on the field motionless, surrounded by doctors and trainers. 

Williams did not return on the team plane Sunday, but was scheduled to arrive home Monday evening. Medical Watch was told that he was walking and that he is now following the NFL concussion protocol.

RELATED: PJ Williams returning to New Orleans after scary injury Sunday

Fans at home were scared when P.J. Williams did not seem to move his legs while laying on the field. Giants players were concerned too, as were his own teammates.

"It was a little scary at first but I've seen some crazy things in this league. Once I heard that he was responsive and that he wasn't paralyzed or anything, then it's just like 'alright, well you know it's just a concussion,," said Saints safety Roman Harper. 

Coach Sean Payton too was relieved there was no catastrophic spinal cord injury saying "All the news is positive."

Williams, who was knocked out, will go through the latest NFL concussion protocol. The Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine explained the healing process.

"You begin to get him back into film and learning plays, so there's still the whole return to learn process. There's a socialization process, back in the dining hall and the noise, driving, and those kinds of things," explained Dr. Gregory Stewart, Tulane Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery and
Chief of the Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

All NFL players now have a preseason brain baseline exam. Williams will constantly be checked for changes and symptoms like headache, blurred vision, sensitivity to noise and bright lights, psychological, sleep and memory changes.

"Right now, what we say is that you manage a concussion. We don't necessarily treat concussion," said Dr. Stewart.

"So you can do hyperbarics. You can do the omega 3s, 6s, and 9s. You can do a lot of the B vitamins. There're a lot of things that we talk about doing but there's not any evidence that it works at this point." 

"There are 29 medical professionals on the sidelines for an NFL game," said Dean Kleinschmidt, who is along-time former NFL athletic trainer. He is also the Care Manager with Tulane University School of Medicine and with the NFL Player Care Foundation.

Kleinschmidt says there are brain experts on the sidelines and watching from the press box at every game.

"We're constantly training and constantly repeating so that when the emergency does happen on the field we've seen it before and we're prepared 24 >

The experts say you are more likely to get a concussion when hit from the side, as Williams was. A concussion is less likely if  you are hit from the front or back of the head. Hitting on the top of the head is more likely to cause spinal cord injury.

No concussions are alike and happen in different parts of the brain so doctors can't say how long it will take Williams' brain to heal. In general, for junior high age it is about two weeks and for high school age it is about a week. Williams is 23 years old so doctors say youth is on his side for recovery. 

(© 2016 WWL)


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