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MLB Adopts New Protocols for Concussions

Every time the San Diego Padres take the field this season, a new policy will be in place to protect the players in the event of a head injury.

According to the MLB, a committee of experts created the policy, which will govern how concussions are first diagnosed and when players and umpires can return to the field following a concussion.

The most significant change is the creation of a seven-day disabled list for concussions. Other changes reflected in the new policy include:

  • Mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for players and umpires;
  • Protocols for evaluating players and umpires for a possible concussion, particularly during high-risk incidents (being hit with a baseball, colliding with a person or object, etc.); and
  • Protocols for clearing a concussed player or umpire to return to activity; before being cleared to return, the team must submit a “Return to Play” form to MLB’s Medical Director regardless of whether the player was placed on the disabled list.

Many had criticized the MLB for not acting sooner. While baseball in not, by nature, a contact sport, there are many ways that a player can sustain a head injury, whether it is being hit by a baseball or colliding with another player. Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins missed half of last season due to a concussion. Both Mike Matheny and Jason Larue were forced to retire after multiple concussions.

As previously discussed on this blog, head injuries can have long-lasting effects. The new concussion protocols are a great first step in ensuring that MLB teams properly manage head injuries and players do not return to early.