On Tuesday, after seeing a neurologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, Church complained of continued dizziness. Rather than report to Shea Stadium for the Mets’ game against the Florida Marlins, he stayed at his Manhattan apartment. Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said Church was day to day and would be evaluated at the ballpark Wednesday, and perhaps cleared to play in the series finale.
Several experts in sports-related concussions, however, said that Church — who has told reporters that he has had a headache and has felt dizzy and tired almost every day since his injury — should not have been allowed to play at all because his symptoms had not cleared.
The experts said common guidelines for concussion management require that athletes be free of symptoms — sometimes for several days — both before and after physical exertion before they can return to competition. They also said that because Church had sustained a more severe concussion in spring training that cost him a week, the risks for him were greater.
“That’s a situation that could be very dangerous,” said Dr. Mickey Collins, assistant director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine’s concussion program. “I haven’t examined this player personally, but if there were a second trauma to a person still experiencing symptoms, the risk could be much higher to a player’s health because he hasn’t healed from the first concussion.”
Corey Koskie can testify to that. After sustaining a concussion in July 2006 while playing for the Brewers, Koskie attempted to come back despite symptoms including headaches, dizziness and nausea. He experienced far more severe symptoms for six months, and eventually had to retire.
“That’s pretty much the reason I’m here today — thinking I could play through it,” Koskie said in a telephone interview from his home in Minnesota.
Regarding Church, he added: “I think he’s nuts. He doesn’t want to get to the point where he’s not going to get better. Tell him to call me. It’s not worth it.”