Concussion Protocols in the United States

Concussion Protocols in the United States
Concussions suffered by athletes have become a hot-button issue in the United States among all the professional sports leagues, including Major League Soccer (MLS). Over the past three years, MLS and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the national governing body for the sport of soccer in the United States, have been the target of numerous lawsuits brought by athletes who have sustained concussions while playing the sport. As a result, the professional sports leagues in the United States have focused on improving athletes’ safety through the development of new rules and protocols designed to minimize the risk of permanent brain damage and debilitating side effects from concussions. 

While the major professional sports leagues in the US (National Football League [NFL], National Hockey League [NHL], Major League Baseball [MLB], National Basketball Association [NBA], and MLS) have been in operation for decades, it is only since 2011 that significant strides have been made to address athlete safety as it relates to concussions. Because concussions are common among all sports, the leagues have developed similar protocols to identify concussions and the return-to-play process.

When the leagues initially sought to develop concussion protocols, they each created “Concussion Committees”, which consisted of a handful of individuals, many of whom were in the medical field but also included representatives from both the league and player unions. These committees were in charge of creating the first concussion protocols and ever since, have been responsible for reviewing the league’s concussion protocol each year and making necessary...

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