MINNEAPOLIS --- Major League Baseball and its players' union have announced a new set of protocols for dealing with concussions, including the creation of a new seven-day disabled list for players with the injury.
The league and the union announced the protocols in a joint statement on Tuesday. They include mandatory baseline testing for all players and umpires and new steps for evaluating players who might have suffered the injury and for having them return to action.
The new guidelines will be in effect starting on Opening Day.
The new disabled list is in addition to the 15-day and 60-day DL that already exist for players with injuries. Any player needing more than 14 days to recover will automatically be transferred to the 15-day disabled list.
"It really is comporting our disabled lists with the reality of management of concussions," MLB senior vice president of labor Dan Halem said.
Each team will also have to designate a specialist who deals with mild brain injuries to evaluate players and umpires when needed and be required send its medical reports to Dr. Gary Green, MLB's medical director, for approval before the injured player is cleared to return to the field.
"This policy, which reflects the collective expertise of many of the foremost authorities in the field, will benefit players, umpires and clubs alike, and I am proud of the spirit of cooperation that has led us to this result," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
Baseball officials formed a committee to examine the issue this winter, which was chaired by Dr. Alex Valadka, MLB's consultant on mild traumatic brain injuries and the chief of adult neurosciences and neurosurgery at the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin, Texas. It included Green, head athletic trainers, team doctors, and Tony Clark, the union's director of player relations.
Halem said that several medical experts on the committee recommended the seven-day DL as a way to address one of the most fundamental challenges to evaluating players with concussions. He said medical research has shown that the average concussion clears within five to seven days.
"The problem that baseball had with the 15-day disabled list was that the clubs were reluctant to put a player on it for 15 days if he could be back in seven days," Halem said. "So some players who maybe should have been on the disabled list probably weren't."