The NBA has a strict set of guidelines for how it deals with players who have been diagnosed with a concussion.
But for the protocol to even begin, that diagnosis has to take place first.
As we’ve seen in two recent cases with the Golden State Warriors, getting that pronouncement to be made is a difficult proposition. Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were cleared to return to play after taking hits to the head, because the symptoms of a concussion weren’t yet present.
Doctors will tell you that there are times when a concussion won’t be fully evident until several hours later; in Thompson’s case, he wasn’t officially diagnosed until days later. This is obviously troubling from a safety standpoint, so the NBA Players Association has hired neurologists to see if more needs to be done to protect its players.
From the Associated Press:
The union has hired neurologists to examine the policy and determine whether any changes are needed to prevent players from playing with an undiagnosed concussion. …
[Union head Michele Roberts] is not convinced that players shouldn’t be held out longer out of caution after being hit in the head. While stressing that she is a lawyer, not a doctor, and that she will wait to hear what the medical experts tell her, she also said one player being allowed back in a game with a concussion is too many.
“That number is sufficient to make us all look at whether we want to risk a player’s health for a game,” she said. “To say it happens so rarely or doesn’t happen frequently enough to change the rules is not enough. We’re talking potentially about someone’s life. I don’t think we should play an odds game when it comes to a player’s life.”
There should probably be a lower threshold than “concussion” for players being held out of action after taking a hit to the head that requires a locker room examination. It makes sense for the union to do what it can to pursue a more reasonable solution than the one currently in place.