Explaining the NBA's concussion protocol


BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics announced that a blow to the head of Al Horford in practice on Monday, has landed the 6-foot-10 big man into the NBA’s concussion protocol program.
RELATED: Horford out against Bulls

He will not play tonight against Chicago, and it’s unclear if he will be cleared in time to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Here’s a look at the league’s concussion program as it relates to a player returning to action.
A player in the concussion protocol program can’t return to the floor until the following:

  • He is without concussion-related symptoms at rest.
  • He has been evaluated by a physician.
  • He has successfully completed the NBA return-to-participation exertion protocol.
  • A team physician has discussed the return-to-participation process and decision with the Director of the NBA concussion program, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.

Ultimately, the decision as to when a player will return will be made by the team physician.

It is unclear at this time exactly where Horford is in the return-to-participation process.
As mentioned above, part of the Return-to-Participation protocol will involve Horford meeting certain benchmarks in order to show that he’s physically ready to step back on the floor.
From the NBA’s media central website, here’s a closer look at what the NBA’s Return-to-Participation protocol consists of:

  1.  The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion – from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
  2. With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
  3. It’s important to note that there is no time frame to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.
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