Bryce Harper collision: Baseball’s concussion rules in focus


Bryce Harper walks off after running into the outfield wall. (Reed Saxon / AP)

Two years ago, Major League Baseball added a seven-day disabled list for concussions and a protocol for evaluating players, a process that is in the limelight again after Bryce Harper’s frightening collision with the outfield wall Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)
(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Preliminary tests showed that Harper had suffered no concussion, according to the Nationals and Harper’s agent, Scott Boras. He had “precautionary” X-rays on his jammed left shoulder and bruised his neck and knee, according to The Post’s Adam Kilgore. He received stitches because he was cut by the chain-link fence in front of the wall.

Like the NFL, NHL and other sports, MLB has protocols added because of the rising awareness of the dangers of concussions. A seven-day DL was created to allow time in which to assess head injuries.

Under the 2011 rules, each team must designate a specialist to evaluate players and umpires and send medical reports to MLB’s medical director for approval before the injured player or umpire is cleared to return to the field. The seven-day DL is only for concussions.


Key components of the policy:

1. 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;

2. 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;

3. 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;

4. 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.

H/T SB Nation

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · May 13, 2013

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