Columbus Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp suffered a concussion more than three weeks ago and had been cleared by doctors multiple times ahead of Wednesday's 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps, before the return of his symptoms forced him to be pulled at halftime.
Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter told MLSsoccer.com on Friday that Trapp suffered the injury during training in the week of March 16 and spent nearly two weeks undergoing evaluations and concussion protocols to ensure he was fit to play.
“He got a single injury to his calf in training and in the same play he got kneed in the head,” Berhalter said. “We saw the whole thing and immediately pulled him from training with his calf. That’s what he was complaining of. The next day we were off, and he came in [the day after being off] and he didn’t participate in any training because of his calf.
“Two days later he came in and said he was a little bit groggy and had a little headache. We immediately put him through concussion protocol and held him out from any progression, even with his calf, not doing anything.”
Berhalter said the concussion protocol is extensive.
“We do tests; there’s a whole battery of tests that we did,” he said. “They do baseline tests before, there are balance tests, there are cognitive tests, there’s a whole battery of tests he was subjected to.”
Crew SC had a bye from league play that weekend, but they scrimmaged against the University of Akron. Trapp did not participate.
Trapp was listed as questionable with a right calf strain on the following week’s injury report for Crew SC’s March 28 match against the New York Red Bulls. During the week, he did not participate in training and began seeing a neuropsychologist.
“He went that whole week doing nothing,” Berhalter said. “We sent him the following Friday – nine or 10 days after the initial injury – to the neuropsychologist again. He wasn’t doing anything that week. We gave him the weekend [of the Red Bulls match] off and sent him for a follow-up the following Monday afternoon to the neuropsychologist.
When Trapp visited the doctor again on March 30, he was no longer experiencing concussion symptoms.
“This was the second time he’d seen this doctor and the whole time we had been in touch with him,” Berhalter said. “At that point, he was symptom-free and was cleared to begin the concussion ladder, which starts with biking. So on that Tuesday he started with biking and we progressed daily based on him being symptom-free.”
During that time, Trapp’s calf was the only injury mentioned on the injury report because it was the first injury reported.
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“His initial injury was the calf; we’re not obligated to list multiple injuries,” Berhalter said. “Everything was filed with the league; everything medically was filed as it should have been. We followed every single protocol. There’s nothing in writing that says we have to list multiple injuries on the injury report.”
By the time the team was in Vancouver for the April 8 game, Trapp had been cleared multiple times and had been symptom-free for several days.
“We wouldn’t have progressed him to the next step [of concussion protocol] unless he was symptom-free,” Berhalter said. “He wouldn’t go from biking to jogging; he wouldn’t even make that step if he had symptoms. He wouldn’t go from jogging to hard running if he hadn’t passed this test. So when we’re talking about the Vancouver game, he’d been cleared for eight or nine days already.”
But even with the blessing of doctors, Berhalter said he and Crew SC staff had regular communication with Trapp about how he was feeling.
“We touched base with him every single day,” he said. “If anything, I would say that we were ultra-conservative with this. That’s how we want to be. Our line is that we’d rather err on the side of caution than prematurely return a player to play in these cases.”
So when Trapp reported feeling “a little groggy and mild symptoms,” at halftime of Wednesday's match in Vancouver, Berhalter pulled him.
The club are currently in New England ahead of Saturday's match with the Revolution on Saturday. The trip to New England has provided an opportunity to further evaluate Trapp through a specialist in the area.
“We’re sending him to a top specialist in the world for concussion research in the Boston area,” Berhalter said. “We want to narrow this down. We’ve been in contact with a specialist in Columbus. He’s seen another specialist. We want to exhaust every possible avenue to be sure there’s an accurate diagnosis.”
With kickoff less than 24 hours away, Berhalter admitted it is unlikely Trapp will play against the Revolution.
“Based on everything we’re saying and the game is tomorrow at 3 o’clock, I think you could probably conclude he’s out for tomorrow,” he said.