Tears from Kuechly could be symptom of concussion, physical therapist says

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The sight of Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly fighting to breathe after a painful hit during Thursday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints left fans speechless. For Kuechly, it left him in tears.

Late in the fourth quarter, Kuechly took a hit from Saints running back Tim Hightower’s helmet to his face mask, then to his chest. As he went to the ground, teammate Thomas Davis’ helmet struck him at the base of his neck and his knee bent back.

“A lot of people are talking today about how he didn’t hit his head,” said physical therapist Chris Stulginsky. “You don’t need to hit your head to have a concussion.”

Stulginsky watched Kuechly’s behavior moments after the hit. He said those emotions can sometimes be a symptom of a concussion.

“They’re not themselves, that’s the biggest diagnostic test.”

He said everyone reacts differently; sometimes they appear dazed, angry or even laugh uncontrollably. Stulginsky said it can be hard to tell in the beginning.

“He’s thinking about his career, he’s thinking about his family, he’s thinking about a whole bunch of things that could be playing in that moment,” he said.

Kuechly missed three games last season because of a concussion. If he did suffer another concussion, his recovery could take longer.

Davis put a picture on Instagram and Facebook with Kuechly Friday telling fans, “Luke wanted me to let you guys know that he’s doing fine and thanks for those prayers.”

Luke wanted me to let you guys know that he's doing fine and thanks for your prayers!! #KeepPounding

Posted by Thomas Davis on Friday, November 18, 2016

Ron Rivera said in a news conference Friday that Kuechly is in concussion protocol but said he didn’t have any additional information.

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