PULLMAN – Don’t count on Luke Falk playing against Washington in the Apple Cup in Seattle on Friday.
The Washington State quarterback was motionless on the Martin Stadium turf for seven minutes on Saturday evening, apparently briefly unconscious, while medical personnel evaluated him, strapped him to a stretcher and took him to the hospital.
When he was taken off the field, Falk was moving his limbs. The WSU football staff has a policy of not commenting on injuries, even to clarify the nature of the injury. If it was a concussion, then it is the second head trauma Falk has suffered in two weeks.
In the second quarter of WSU’s 31-27 win at UCLA on Nov. 14, Falk was sacked and injured, causing him to leave the game. Afterward, he said that he got his “bell rung,” a pejorative term to describe the dizziness Falk felt as he repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to get to his feet immediately after sustaining the hit.
The NCAA requires each member school to have a concussion safety protocol.
On Sunday, WSU provided its protocol to The Spokesman-Review, which requires an athlete exhibiting symptoms of a concussion to be removed from practice or competition, as Falk was. At that point a team physician or certified athletic trainer performs an evaluation that consists of taking stock of the player’s symptoms, giving him or her physical and neurological exams, a cognitive assessment, a balance exam and a clinical assessment for cervical spine trauma, skull fracture or intracranial bleed.
Falk had to pass all those tests to return for the second half of the UCLA game. He appeared fine and played well in the second half.
After his head slammed against the cold turf in the Colorado game, Falk did not return.
If it was a brain injury, it is unlikely Falk will be able to play on Friday against Washington in the Apple Cup. Resarch by William P. Meehan and colleagues in 2012 for the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed athletes suffering the most metabolic stress – primarily a decrease in N-acetylaspartylglutamic acid – within one to six days after the concussion.
The athletes returned to normal cognitive function approximately 30 days after sustaining a concussion. If that concussion happened within 30 days of a previous concussion, it took around 45 days for the brain to fully heal, indicating that the head traumas have a compounding effect.
So there’s a good chance the Apple Cup will be Peyton Bender’s show. Bender has played in relief three times when Falk left because of injuries: the season-opener against Portland State, UCLA and Colorado.
Senior tackle Joe Dahl is also unlikely to play on Friday, although his status has never been released by WSU. Dahl was in a walking boot during the Senior Night celebration prior to the Colorado game. He has missed the last three games. Other regular starters River Cracraft, a wide receiver, and center Riley Sorenson did not play against the Buffaloes.
Cougars ranked No. 20
Washington State moved up four spots in the AP Top 25 poll after beating Colorado 27-3. It’s the highest the Cougars have been ranked since they finished the 2003 season ranked No. 9.
The Cougars are also ranked No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll.
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