Texas Football: What's Going on with David Ash?

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Texas Football: What's Going on with David Ash?
Eric Gay/Associated Press

As if there is not enough speculation surrounding the future of Texas football, the lingering question surrounding quarterback David Ash's future remains unanswered.

On September 7, Ash went down with a head injury against BYU. He sat out for the Longhorns September 14 game against Ole Miss and returned to the field September 21 against Kansas State.

Ash was 14-25 for 166 yards and a 63-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Sanders in the first half. Ash did not return for the second half due to recurring concussion symptoms.

He has not played since.

Texas released the details of Ash's injury in a November 25 statement from head athletic trainer Kenny Boyd.

David has been treated and evaluated by our medical staff daily for a recurrence of concussion symptoms and also visited with and received feedback from specialists. Though he's made a lot of progress, we have not been able to clear him to return to competition. Due to the duration of symptoms, we are now at a point that we all believe the best approach for him is to not return this season. We've visited with David and his family and are all in agreement on his not returning to action as the best next step in his recovery. We will continue to treat him and watch his progress closely and expect this will allow him ample time to return to full health and participation for the spring season. 

The NCAA requires universities to implement concussion-management plans based on the recommended best practices for a concussion-management plan for all NCAA institutions. In the instance of the University of Texas, its concussion-management plan states the following:

University of Texas Concussion Management Plan
1. Student-athletes are required to sign a statement annually in which they accept the responsibility for reporting their injuries and illnesses to the sports medicine staff, including signs and symptoms of concussions.
2. Student-athletes, coaches and other pertinent team personnel are educated on concussions annually.
3. Emergency action plans are posted at each athletics venue to respond to student-athlete catastrophic injuries and illnesses, including but not limited to concussions, heat illness, spine injury, cardiac arrest, respiratory distress and sickle cell trait collapses. All athletics healthcare providers and select coaches review, update and practice the plan annually.
4. Our athletics healthcare providers are empowered to have the unchallengeable authority to determine management and return-to-play of any ill or injured student-athlete, as he or she deems appropriate.
5. A written team physician-directed concussion management plan that specifically outlines the roles of athletics healthcare staff (e.g. physicians, licensed/certified athletic trainers and other specialty consultants) is on file. In addition, the following components have been specifically identified for our environment:
a. A baseline assessment for each student-athlete prior to the first practice in the sports of baseball, basketball, diving, football, pole vaulting, soccer and softball is recorded. The same baseline assessment is used post-injury at appropriate time intervals.
b. A sideline assessment tool for evaluating and managing a mild head injury sustained in practice or competition is made available to all staff members.
c. Student-athlete showing any signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion will be removed from practice or competition and evaluated by an athletics healthcare provider with experience in the evaluation and management of concussion.
d. A student-athlete diagnosed with a concussion will be witheld from competition or practice and will not be permitted to return to activity for the remainder of that day.
e. Athletes will be provided with written instructions upon discharge preferably with a roommate, guardian or someone that can follow the instructions.
f. At the direction of the attending physician and/or attending athletic trainer, the academic staff will contact professors and alert them of the student-athlete's health status and the potential side effects of concussion that may adversely impact his/her academic performance.
g. The student-athlete will be evaluated by a team physician as outlined within the concussion management plan. Once asymptomatic and post-exertion assessments are within normal baseline limits, return to play follows a medically supervised stepwise progression.
h. Final authority of "Return-to-Play" resides with the team physician.
6. The incident, evaluation, continued management and clearance of the student-athlete with a concussion will be thoroughly documented.

UT Open Records Request

There is no typical timetable to return to action following a concussion, but according to WebMD, returning to play too soon could cause long-term or permanent brain damage.

Is this the case for David Ash?

Nobody outside of the medical staff truly knows, due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), but one could assume Ash's concussion is not something to ignore moving forward.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency-medicine physician at New York City's Lennox Hill Hospital told Health Day children and young adults are especially vulnerable for concussions.

"Their brains continue to develop in their early 20s, and research has shown that younger athletes, all other factors being equal, will typically require more time to recover from concussions than their adult counterparts," Glatter said.

"If they sustain head trauma or concussions in their late teens and early 20s, the window for repetitive injury is lengthened. The long term complications of repetitive head trauma can have lasting effects on younger athletes into their adult years."

So what does the future hold for Ash?

Prior to his injury, Ash was named to the preseason watch lists for the 2013 Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Manning Award, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and CFPA Offensive Award. He was named a preseason first-team All-Big 12 selection by Sporting News and the most accurate passer in the league by Lindy's, according to his bio on Texassports.com.

But with the length of his concussion, and the research provided by Dr. Glatter on brain development and concussions, it's difficult to expect much from Ash on the football field. 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first hand.

Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar

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