Brandin Cooks Head Injury

February 5th, 2018

Just think, it’s the second quarter of the Super Bowl and one of your best wide receivers goes down. This was the case for Brandin Cooks at this year’s super bowl.  For the Patriots, there are resounding gasps in the crowd and along the sideline, while huddles are quickly gathering along the Eagles bench and the plotting begins to capitalize on one man’s injury. This is the unfortunate competitive nature of athletics.

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While the entire country understands now that the most common diagnosis here is a concussion, the Patriots are rigorously trying to protect Brandin Cooks  from the uproar of media, comments from people who “know” it all and desperately helping him maintain his privacy as a diagnosis is confirmed.  

I will not claim to “know it all” but I will comment on a topic we are all thinking. While we can assume Brandin Cook  sustained a concussion, the severity will be determined over the next few days.  On-field doctors, athletic trainers, and neuropsychologists will be working tirelessly to evaluate and determine the diagnosis and the course of treatment. A lot of factors need to be taken into consideration and it requires taking initial symptoms, current symptoms, full medical history, understanding the mechanism of injury, any loss of consciousness that may have occurred, and previous history of concussions.

According to a study published in 2009, most concussions resolve within 7-10 days.

Symptoms Brandin Cooks  may have experienced or may experience include…

  • Memory
  • Loss Headache
  • Nausea
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty Reading
  • Balance deficits
  • Loss of Concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability


A thorough examination of his symptoms include a cervical spine assessment, ocular (eye) testing, balance testing, a cardiovascular baseline and a rating of his subjective symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea via the SCAT. For the next few days it is crucial that Brandin rest and let his body begin the healing process.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury which involves a chemical shift of ions across the blood brain barrier; this shift is part responsible for the symptoms he is feeling and the body’s struggle to maintain homeostasis. If you saw the hit that occurred late in the second quarter, you’ll know that neck pain can also contribute to symptoms such as a headache, dizziness and nausea. This is a result of what is called cervicogenic symptoms (originating from insult to the neck).  

After 10 days, if Brandin’s symptoms persist, physical therapy and more specifically vestibular therapy will be recommended to help Brandin resolve these symptoms and assist him in establishing an asymptomatic baseline in which he can resume physical activity and cardiovascular training. Recovering from a concussion does not have a timeline and can take weeks or even months to be able to resume activities as simple as riding a bike for 10 minutes without signs of dizziness, nausea, or a headache. We utilize the BRAIN-G principle, which includes Bike, Run, Agility, In Red, No Restrictions, Game play. (Read more)


Therapy is a bit of a rollercoaster, there are a lot of highs and there are a lot of lows. It will take a multidisciplinary team watching Brandin’s progression to ensure he does not push himself too quickly through the recovery process and determine that his symptoms are completely resolved before progressing to the next phase of therapy (see NFL protocol). While symptoms like blurred vision, nausea and dizziness often fade in the beginning of therapy, headaches, neck pain and difficulty concentrating are often the ones that linger. Last but not least, a prolonged recovery time can often lead to episodes of depression, anxiety and mood changes. These symptoms, often seen after a concussion is sustained, however do not mean Brandin Cook  has CTE.

If Brandin Cooks did sustain a concussion, it is imperative that he rest for the next week to allow his body to progress through the natural healing process. He may be a candidate for physical therapy if the symptoms persist after ten days. For more information about PT for a concussion diagnosis, take a look at our next blog about Vestibular Therapy for Concussion Management.

Written by:

Mary Catherine Casey, DPT

Concussion Management Specialist

Founder of The FIT Institute[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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