(Reuters) – The NFL’s concussion protocol has been altered with late-season changes following recent incidents that have triggered investigations.
The changes were implemented last weekend, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told ESPN.
Most notably, a central unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) was stationed at the command center that has been used primarily for game-replay review, Sills said.
“We are constantly looking at the protocol and how it’s applied and trying to get better,” Sills said. “The process happens through the season.”
An injury to Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage on Dec. 10 as well as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s concussion protocol misstep in Week 10 that resulted in a $100,000 fine for the franchise were two incidents that fueled the investigation.
Other notable changes in the new protocol were:
–Any sign of impact seizure will be considered the same as loss of consciousness, with the player being ruled out of the game.
–A referee who removes a player from the game for suspected head trauma must notify the medical staff.
–A player who exhibits gross motor instability or significant loss of balance must be taken to the locker room for evaluation if it is not diagnosed as an orthopedic injury.
–A player who is evaluated for a concussion must be re-evaluated within 24 hours, even if the player has an off day.
–A third UNC will be on site for the playoffs and the Super Bowl, in addition to the two already assigned to each regular-season game.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll)