APNewsBreak: NBA mulling formal concussion policy

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The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 10:12 PM

MILWAUKEE -- The NBA is consulting with an independent neurologist and may establish a league-wide policy for handling concussions by next season, The Associated Press has learned.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed the discussions Tuesday.

"The NBA Team Physicians Society has been studying the issue of concussion management for several years and each team follows its own treatment and return-to-play protocols," he said. "In addition, the league is working with a consulting neurologist concerning the possible adoption of a league-wide protocol."

The move would bring the NBA more in line with both the NHL and the NFL. In just the last four weeks, six NBA players have missed games because of concussions or concussion-like symptoms.

Most recently, New Orleans point guard Chris Paul was taken off the floor on a stretcher on Sunday night after diving and hitting his forehead on Cleveland guard Ramon Sessions' right shoulder. He was diagnosed with a concussion.

"Concussions are something that I don't think we really realize how serious they are because they're kind of rare in our game. They happen more often in football, hockey, other sports like that," said Bucks guard Keyon Dooling, a vice president of the NBA players' union executive committee along with Paul.

"Our brain is our most powerful muscle, and if you've got anything off-kilter with that, it can be problematic," Dooling said recently.

The NBA and the players' union say they are tracking the number of head hits. Frank declined to name the neurologist involved with the league, but said they've been working on the issue extensively this season.

Basketball doesn't draw the same level of concern as in other sports such as hockey and football because there aren't as many violent head hits and fewer concussions.

"They seem to be really rare, but I did have one as a player," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "I can't recall any of our guys over the years getting a concussion, but if it was to come up, we would absolutely exercise caution."

Hornets coach Monty Williams is dealing with Paul's injury after two of his own as a player while Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro believes the league has to balance player safety with how the game is played.

"They're trying to do different things with rules in terms of respect of the game and flagrant fouls and things to protect guys," Del Negro said. "There's a fine line there. The game is an instinct game. You want to react.

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