Bears quarterback is hit by Houston cornerback Kareem Jackson in November.… (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune )
If an NFL or NHL athlete suffers a hard hit to the head or body, he is required to jump through a few hoops before he can play again.
Players are subjected to the sideline concussion evaluation, which assesses orientation, memory, concentration, balance and symptoms. Some of the sample questions: What day is it? Did your team win its last game? Can you repeat a list of five words?
If the player experiences a loss of consciousness, unresponsiveness, confusion or amnesia, he is considered a "No Go" and shouldn't be allowed to return to the game or practice.
Once diagnosed with a possible concussion and removed from the game, the player must leave the field and is escorted to the locker room where medical personnel stay with the player, observing him if the injury does not require immediate hospitalization. The player cannot return to the field.
Players have to be cleared by the team physician and an independent neurologist before returning to play.
If a player shows concussion-like symptoms or signs, he is removed from the game and taken to a distraction-free environment to be examined by a team physician.
The examination includes a standardized neuropsychological test that helps evaluate a possible concussion. For example, the player will be asked to repeat a string of numbers in the reverse order they were read to him. The results are compared with the results of a baseline test he took at training camp assessing his cognitive ability. The player also is observed for other concussion symptoms such as nausea and headaches.
If the player has a concussion, he needs to be symptom-free at rest and after light and strenuous exercise to be eligible to play again. There is no set timetable for when symptoms subside, but he must be cleared by the team doctor.
Sources: nflevolution.com and an NHL spokesman
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page.