NFL Updates Concussion Protocol to Include Researcher’s “Fencing” Response

Response is sign of potential loss of consciousness

Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD (at right) with members of his team at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix


In 2009, a University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix researcher published his work with student researchers that included the study of the fencing response. The fencing response is an immediate indictor of brain injury that impacts the brain stem, according to Jonathan Lifshitz, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Child Health at the College of Medicine – Phoenix and Director of the Translational Neurotrauma Research Program, which is a joint venture through BARROW Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.


Dr. Lifshitz and his team have since promoted awareness of the fencing response through presentations, Wikipedia and Twitter for neurologists, athletic trainers and sports fans. Recently, the NFL updated its Concussion Protocol to include the fencing response, stating:


Defined impact seizure and fencing responses as independent signs of potential loss of consciousness, representing a “No-Go” criteria under the current Protocol. Players who display either of these signs at any time shall be removed from play and may not return to the game.


“We are enthusiastic that the fencing response was adopted for real world application (translation) on a stage this large,” Dr. Lifshitz said. “Since translational successes are challenging to show concrete impact on healthcare delivery, we wanted to share this success.”

Here is a link to visual representations of the fencing response:

 About the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007. The College inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. The College is uniquely positioned to accelerate the biomedical and economic engines in Phoenix and the State by leveraging vital relationships with key clinical and community partners. For more information, please visit .


Posted in AZBio News.