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Citing player safety, NBA institutes new concussion policy


Posted Dec 12 2011 3:28PM - Updated Dec 12 2011 7:30PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA has put in place a concussion policy that will determine when players return from head injuries.

The protocols went into effect with the start of training camps "for the safety and protection of our players," the league said Monday.

If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he will have to complete a series of steps to confirm that he's healthy enough for competition. Once he is free of symptoms, the player must make it through increasing stages of exertion - from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills - while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each one. Then the neurologist hired to lead the NBA's concussion program needs to be consulted before the player is cleared.

The process will likely take at least several days, if not weeks.

The NBA joins the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball in instituting a concussion protocol.

Before the opening of preseason games, each player will undergo baseline testing, which aids in the diagnosis of potential concussions. Players and coaches will take part in annual training and will have to sign acknowledgment forms that they understand the importance of reporting symptoms.

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, will serve as director of the NBA's concussion program. He is instructing team medical personnel on the tests to conduct if a player is suspected of having a concussion. The players must be examined in a quiet location free of distractions.

Dr. Kutcher, who has testified before Congress about concussions in sports, developed the protocols with a committee of team physicians and athletic trainers.

The league said in March that it was considering a concussion policy after a spate of players missing games with concussion-like symptoms, including All-Star Chris Paul.

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