In a sports world that is finally waking up to the extreme danger of concussions, Major League Baseball has announced a series of protocols regarding concussions that will take place starting with tomorrow's Opening Day games.
According to a release from MLB, a committee of experts formulated a comprehensive policy that will govern the manner in which concussions are initially diagnosed and will determine when a player can return to the field. This will cover players at the big league and minor league level, along with umpires.
The key components of the policy are:
– Mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for players and umpires during Spring Training, or when a player joins a club during the season, formalizing a process that most individual Clubs follow.
– Protocols for evaluating players and umpires for a possible concussion, including during incidents typically associated with a high risk, such as being hit in the head a by a pitched, batted or thrown ball or by a bat; being in a collision with a player, umpire or fixed object; or any time when the head or neck of a player or an umpire is forcibly rotated.
– The establishment of a seven-day disabled list for concussions, which will aim to allow concussions to clear, prevent players from returning prematurely and give clubs a full complement of players in one’s absence; any player on the seven-day DL for more than 14 days will automatically and retroactively be transferred to the 15-day DL, effective with the first day of the initial placement, and with the prior 14 days applying to the initial 15-day maximum term; implemented on a trial basis for the 2011 season.
– Protocols for clearing a concussed player or umpire to return to activity; prior to the time that a concussed player is permitted to play in any game (including Major League, Minor League or extended Spring Training games), the Club must submit a “Return to Play” form to MLB’s medical director; submission of the form is required irrespective of whether the player was placed on the disabled list.
– The Commissioner’s Office will conduct an orientation for Club medical staffs regarding the new protocols. In addition, each Club will be required to designate a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) specialist in its home city to evaluate players or umpires when necessary.
“I believe that Major League Baseball is taking a major step forward on a vital shared goal with the MLB Players Association,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “This policy, which reflects the collective expertise of many of the foremost authorities in the field, will benefit players, umpires and clubs alike, and I am proud of the spirit of cooperation that has led us to this result.”