Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins quarterback, was slammed to the ground in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. The 24-year-old  suffered head and neck injuries and has been taken to a level 1 trauma center. He was however, concious, the team said. 

Only last week, Tagovailoa was hit by linebacker Matt Milano in his side’s win over the Buffalo Bills. It looked a lot like a head injury when he got up, shaking his head, and tumbled. Miami said that the QB had suffered a back injury. 

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The NFL Players Association launched an investigation to determine whether concussion protocols were properly enforced after he returned to that game following a halftime evaluation of a head injury.

Tua’s hands were splayed above his head after his head hit the ground. This is called the ‘fencing response position’. 

In simple terms, it is an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion. Forearms are held flexed or extended for a period lasting up to several seconds after the impact.

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“Fencing is an overt indicator of injury force magnitude and midbrain localization to aid in injury identification and classification,” according to the National Library of Medicine.

The fencing response concept is similar to the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR), also called the fencing reflex, that occurs in new borns. 

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It is when newborn babies position themselves with one arm flexed and the other extended with their head turned toward the extended arm. 

Miami Dolphins fans criticized the team’s decision to start the quarterback against the Bengals. They said Tua should have been inactive and placed under concussion protocol after his injury against the Bills last week. He made 8 successful passes out of 14 attempts for 110 yards and 1 interception before he was forced off the field.