The Patriots advance to the Super Bowl. Love them or hate them, they continue to find success in the post-season. In the latest chapter of Patriots comebacks, they overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter without Rob Gronkowski, who was knocked out with a concussion in the second quarter. There is both good and bad news for Gronkowski owners and fans as we look at his possible return to the Patriots lineup for the Super Bowl. First, the good news is that 80-90% of concussion symptoms resolve within two weeks. The bad news is that in the remaining percentage of cases, symptoms can last weeks or months. If these symptoms persist, such as headaches, memory loss, nausea, confusion, or sensitivity to light to name a few, Gronk would be ruled out for the Super Bowl.
In order for Gronkowski to return for the big game, he has to progress through a five-stage process without having any symptoms. The first step is 24 hours of no activity while staying symptom-free after the concussion. It then ramps up from there, as he will have to complete a session of stationary cycling with no symptoms, then simple football drills, followed by non-contact football drills, and finally full-contact practice without symptoms. After each completed step he must remain symptom-free for 24 hours. If he passes these five steps within these two weeks, he will be cleared to play.
The big question is how do we know if he will make it through the steps in time? Many studies have looked at concussions in recent years. Symptoms that would be found alarming immediately post-concussion are a loss of consciousness, amnesia (memory loss), and high symptom severity, as well as a prior history of concussion. Gronk did not appear to have any loss of consciousness, which is a good sign for him in hopes of being back in 2 weeks for the Super Bowl. With that being said, there is no hard and fast rule saying that Gronk will for sure be back or not be back in a certain amount of time, which does make this a tricky topic. Yet with this 2-week break between the AFC Championship and Super Bowl LII, he will have a great opportunity to progress through the protocol and play against the Eagles. As it stands on 1/22/18 I would expect Gronk to be cleared to play without any lingering effects for the Super Bowl.
For more content relating to this or if you have any questions or comments, give me a follow on Twitter @habegger23.