Gerardo Vazquez, M.D., a Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso sports medicine physician, participated in a panel about concussions after a screening of the 2015 film “Concussion” at the 2019 Plaza Classic Film Festival on Sunday, Aug. 10.
Dr. Vazquez is an expert on the diagnosis and treatment of concussion and post-concussion symptoms. He cares for athletes who have suffered a concussion with the ultimate goal of safely returning them to the playing field.
Usually caused by an impact to the head, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can result in problems with balance and coordination, and concentration and memory. Treatment for a concussion consists of “absolute rest,” which means physical and mental rest. Patients will be directed to avoid sports or physical exertion, as well as tasks that require thinking and concentration, such as reading, schoolwork and computer usage, until these activities no longer trigger symptoms.
During the panel discussion, Dr. Vazquez discussed changes in concussion awareness since the release of the film.
“What I’ve noticed, just watching football on TV, is the changes in rules,” Dr. Vazquez said, mentioning that the targeting of defenseless players and roughing the passer seemed to get more penalties in the 2018 NFL season. “Rule changes also happened in youth football, hockey and soccer. There are a lot more penalties and a lot more education about what should be looked for to prevent any potential concussions during play.”
Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, which sponsored the screening of “Concussion,” is the exclusive provider of health care to El Paso’s professional soccer team, El Paso Locomotive FC. TTP El Paso’s sports medicine and orthopaedic physicians provide Locomotive athletes with a full range of medical services on and off the field, including triage, concussion evaluation, injury evaluation, and preseason and postseason physicals.
Dr. Vazquez was joined on the panel by El Pasoan and sponsored surfer Monica Riehl, and licensed Jefferson High School athletic trainer Maria Tuck.
“Concussion” is a biographical drama based on an article published in GQ that followed Nigerian-born forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu as he slowly uncovered the mystery of former pro football players who die young. Dr. Omalu’s discovery of severe brain trauma, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), is controversial and draws denials from the league — until his findings compel action.