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Donald Parham concussion update: what is abnormal posturing?

The Los Angeles Chargers tight end is being assessed in hospital after hitting his head trying to make a touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Members of the Los Angeles Chargers kneel as Donald Parham #89 of the Los Angeles Chargers is assessed for injury in the first quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium on December 16, 2021 in Inglewood, California.
Harry HowAFP

Chargers tight end Donald Parham Jr. was hospitalized and in stable condition Thursday night after getting hurt in Los Angeles' home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Parham was carted off the field on a stretcher after tumbling on his head trying to make a touchdown catch at the 13:27 mark of the first quarter.

An announcement from the team late in the fourth quarter said Parham was "undergoing tests, imaging and evaluation for a head injury" at UCLA Harbor Medical Center.

"I know he's at the hospital," Chargers coach Brandon Staley said after Los Angeles' 34-28 overtime loss. "That's where our thoughts are now, with him. That's one of those things that's the tough side of the game. He means so much to us and he's having such an incredible season. I'm hoping that if DP can hear us, hear me, that (he knows) we love him and we're thinking about him and we can't wait to see him soon."

Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert added, "I'm just hoping for the best. Parham has been an incredible teammate, an incredible friend. He's been nice to everyone in that locker room and everyone loves him. Obviously, it's incredibly tough to see that out on the field, but he's tough, he's a fighter. We've just got to pray for him, hope for him so that he's ready to go."

The injury came as he was not able to hold on to a 5-yard pass on a fourth-and-goal situation. About 15 Chargers players watched on the field as the team medical staff assessed Parham.

Parham is in his second season in the NFL. He entered Thursday with 20 receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns over the Chargers' first 13 games.

What is abnormal posturing?

What Parham underwent after the impact is known as abnormal posturing, or the fencing response, which leads to the arms and legs being held straight out, the toes being clenched in a downward position and the head and neck arching backward. Abnormal posturing is generally indicative of a concussion and can signify brain damage, which means doctors will perform various tests on the player to assess the extent of the injury.


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