ProFootballDoc: Trent Brown Situation Is Scary, But He Should Recover Quickly

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A “Tyrod Taylor” -like medical situation involving a team doctor sends another player to the hospital.

Raiders right tackle Trent Brown was active for the Browns contest but was deemed “ill” and did not play. It turns out that a pregame IV left him with air in his bloodstream, and he was wheeled out of the locker room and taken to the hospital

Taylor received a pregame rib-block type injection that punctured his lung and led to him missing a month and losing his Chargers starting job to Justin Herbert. Even though Brown will not fly home with the team, he will be much luckier and should recover in time to practice and play next week.

Intravenous fluid is often administered by team doctors pregame and at halftime to keep players hydrated. IVs normally use gravity to drip fluid into a patient over time, but due to time constraints, medical staffs instead administer fluid quickly using pressure bags. This process can force excess air into the bloodstream.

In the movies, this is portrayed as deadly, but in real life it is not unless there is unusual heart anatomy. The air is filtered out by the lungs, but it can cause pain and discomfort and make breathing difficult. Although scary, this extra air is absorbed naturally over time with little consequence. Of course, one can’t be expected to play a game under such conditions, and the flight home poses some risk. 

Fortunately, Brown will recover much more quickly than Taylor and should start next week.

Brown did test positive for COVID recently, and this week was supposed to be his first game back. Obviously, this issue has nothing to do with Coronavirus.

NFL medicine puts practitioners in unusual circumstances. New medical staff are asked to do things that are not routine and that increases the chance of mishaps. Such mishaps have now happened twice this year. 

Team doctors are also usually local, and the Raiders moved to Las Vegas only recently. So the team and its new team of doctors are still becoming acquainted. These are not bad doctors. They are just trying to acclimate to a unique new job.

Lightning has struck twice in this unusual season. Let’s hope there is not a third.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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