The NFL has "modified its procedures for identifying and treating concussions," according to Sam Farmer of the L.A. TIMES. The league has "implemented standard examinations that take several minutes, and which injured players must pass to be eligible to return to action." The procedures entail "advising teams not to commit the entire medical staff to any particular injured player, and instead have part of the staff continue to watch what's happening on the field." Pro Football HOFer John Madden, who oversees the NFL's player-safety advisory panel, said that it is "important that decisions whether a player is fit to return will be made by medical personnel instead of coaches." Madden: "Taking it out of the coaches' hands is the way it always should have been" (L.A. TIMES, 4/19). Falcons President and NFL Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay: "I really do believe the culture has changed between the players, the coaches, the medical staffs ... for the good. You have players and teammates much more willing to report injuries and specifically concussions, and I think the doctors have done a good job of standardizing for us the evaluation process and the procedures for coming back to play" (USA TODAY, 4/19). Meanwhile, EA Sports' "Madden NFL 12" will keep players out of action because of concussions, and Madden said, "If we can do it in the NFL, we think we can get it trickled down to college and high school and youth football. Maybe that's where a lot of kids get started with football -- in the video game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/19).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: In L.A., Jeannine Stein reported a study published yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveals that the number of concussions suffered by NHL players "has decreased in recent years." Concussion rates during regular-season games "went from 7.7 per 100 players during the 2000-2001 season to 4.9 per 100 players during the 2003-2004 season." However, the "number of days players have lost because of recurring concussions has gone up" (LATIMES.com, 4/18). The GLOBE & MAIL's McIlroy & Gordon noted the report also states that one in five NHL players who "sustained a concussion during a shift in the regular season went back on the ice that same game." In addition, a "significant number of those players who returned to the ice ended up missing more than 10 days of play afterwards because of concussion symptoms" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 4/18).