What lies ahead for Gordon Hayward, now in the NBA concussion protocol program?


BOSTON -- After a blow to the head sent Gordon Hayward home before halftime on Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks, the Celtics say the hit was severe enough to where Hayward is now in the NBA’s concussion protocol program. 

Hayward took a hard shot to the head following a screen set by Atlanta’s John Collins. 

It is unclear when Hayward will return to action for the Celtics, a franchise that has had players - Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving - either in the concussion protocol program or monitored for a concussion, in the past couple of years. 

And the time each of them were sidelined varied, making it almost impossible to get a feel for when Hayward will be cleared to resume playing. 


Here’s a look at the league’s concussion program which includes the hurdles players must clear before being given the green light to resume playing.

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 process.
  • A team physician has discussed the return-to-participation process and decision with the Director of the NBA concussion program.
  • Note that the final return-to-participation decision is to be made by the player’s team physician, in order to maximize the consistency of care for the player. 

It is unclear where Hayward is as it relates to the return-to-participation exertion protocol. 

As mentioned above, part of the Return-to-Participation exertion process involves Hayward meeting certain benchmarks to show that he’s physically ready to get back on the court.  

From the NBA’s media central website, here’s a closer look at what the NBA’s Return-to-Participation exertion process 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 focused neurological examination is performed and 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 process (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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