A Concussion Discussion

I should have known that the concussion issue would come up today at the Mets game between Keith and Ron – both daily NY Times readers and crossword puzzlers. Both men were very glad about the new guidelines, having been around the Mets during some strange happenings with concussions.

First was Ryan Church who was put on an airplane to the coast with his concussion and was never the same after that. Today, Jason Bay – who had returned to play too soon -after crashing into a wall – is back on the disabled list though for a new ailment.

Keith talked a bit about his concussion 20+ years ago in Chicago, where he blacked out and woke up in a hospital. That was about all he could remember.

Roger Goodell of the NFL is doing PR messages about the new 7 day Disabled List which has been established to aid in recovery from concussions. It doesn’t only affect MLB players – in fact Sidney Crosby – the Big Name in the NHL – has been out with concussion problems since the first of the year.

The way sports teams treat concussion victims has come a long way in a relatively short time. The days of players told to “walk it off” or “tough it out” have faded, replaced by baseline tests and doctor-mandated inactivity.

Major League Baseball took its concussion protocol a step further Tuesday, creating a new seven-day disabled list specifically for players who may have suffered a head injury, essentially encouraging teams to be careful.

The new disabled list, substantially shorter than the league’s traditional 15-day DL, is only one part of the new concussion protocol.

There also will be mandatory neurological “baseline” testing for players and umpires each spring, a standard evaluation when a head injury is suspected, and required clearance from MLB medical director Dr. Gary Green.

The seven-day DL will in theory make it easier for teams to pull a player from competition because they won’t be afraid of losing him for 15 days.

I think that all involved in professional sports will welcome the new guidelines and that it will standardize treatment for those who are concussed.