In terms of violence and physical contact baseball is a far cry from football or hockey, but today’s news brought word that the National Pastime is following in the footsteps of higher-impact competitions in seeking to address concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
According to an analysis published by Bloomberg News, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has announced new procedures for dealing with head injuries in baseball. The measures, which take effect on Thursday when the 2011 season officially begins, include changes to the manner in which “concussions are diagnosed and the determination on when players or umpires can return to the field.”
The news agency notes that each team will be required to designate a brain injury specialist as part of the medical team based in its home city. It also establishes a new, head-injury-specific seven day disabled list and establishes consistent “protocols for evaluating players for a possible concussion after high-risk incidents, such as being hit in the head by a pitched, batted or thrown ball, or colliding with another player or fixed object.”
Though baseball clearly has fewer serious traumatic brain and spinal cord injury problems than some other sports, it is gratifying to see the sport move in a direction pioneered by other leagues, notably the NHL, which has wrestled with rule changes several times over the last few years as it looks for ways to minimize head injuries.
Responsible conduct at the professional level is important not least because of the example it sets for colleges, schools and youth sports programs. Here in Oregon, concern over traumatic brain injuries is rising, just as it is in the rest of the nation. From the perspective of a Portland brain and spinal cord injury attorney, increased awareness is an important first step both toward preventing future accidents and in the fight to obtain justice for those who are already suffering.