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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tuitama heads to Pittsburgh for concussion management

    Just two short weeks after suffering his third concussion in less than four months, UA quarterback Willie Tuitama will seek help from those who can best give it.

    Tuitama, who suffered his most recent injury Nov. 25 in a loss to ASU, will travel to the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Sports Medicine where he will be examined by specialists in the center’s Concussion Program.

    “”We’re going to have him go to Pittsburgh and have certain things evaluated and see where that takes us,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said.

    Tuitama, 19, saw a local specialist during the season who gave him cranial massages to help clear symptoms. He will likely be seen by Drs. Mark Lovell, Micky Collins or Jamie Pardini in Pittsburgh.

    The sophomore will undergo examination and testing on the center’s Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test, or ImPACT, which helps determine an athlete’s readiness to return to play by testing memory and reaction skills against a baseline Tuitama first took when he stepped foot on campus two years ago.

    The UPMC program, widely regarded as one of the best in America, treats the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and sees athletes from over 400 high schools and universities around the nation. It’s also hosted other UA athletes with concussion problems, most recently ChǸ Oh of the women’s basketball team.

    Oh, a forward who suffered two concussions in 2005-06, is redshirting this season.

    Pardini, a neuropsychologist at the UPMC’s concussion center, said in a recent interview that the multitude of concussions in a short amount of time likely caused Tuitama to become more susceptible to the head injuries.

    “”Research that shows with every single concussion, you’re progressively a little more at risk,”” she said. “”But how much more at risk you are is really difficult to say.””

    Even if she was legally allowed to talk about individual patients, Pardini stressed she wouldn’t be able to without first examining Tuitama herself.

    But, speaking in generalities, Pardini said the multitude of head injuries could have either been just that – multiple – or not at all.

    “”With your first concussion, you may have had to really be rocked to have the injury,”” she said. “”If that person goes back too soon, what we often see is a pretty light hit may cause somebody to reconcuss, which really is maybe not even a second concussion, but an exacerbation of the first injury.

    “”It could be a second concussion,”” she added, “”but it could also just be you weren’t ready yet; your symptoms weren’t completely gone, you weren’t completely normal.””

    Whatever the case, Stoops is sure that he has his quarterback in the right hands.

    “”We want to make sure he’s looked at by the best there is out there and see exactly what we’re dealing with,”” he said.

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