Like the National Football League, and most other professional sporting associations, Major League Baseball has enacted a concussion policy in recent years which makes efforts to protect players from brain injury. Unfortunately, a recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine suggests the MLB concussion policy may not be strong enough.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester, discovered many players who experienced concussions may be still suffering from the effects of the injury, even after being cleared to return to play.
The researchers compared performance from players who were recently benched due to concussion against those returning after paternity or bereavement leave. According to the results, players with recent concussions had notably worse performance than those who missed time off the field for other reasons.
Players returning from concussions showed significantly worse batting averages (.235 vs. .266), slugging percentages (.361 vs. .423), and on-base percentages (.294 vs. .326) compared to players who had been away from the field for non-health reasons.
According to Dr. Jeff Bazarian, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester and leader of the study, the results show the drop in performance can’t be attributed to the so-called “rust factor,” or lack of practice.
However, the results from the players returning from bereavement or paternity leave may be potentially misleading as the authors say they actually performed better upon return, rather than worse than before their leave.
Nonetheless, Bazarian says the results indicate Major League Baseball needs to reconsider their concussion policy and extend the amount of time players are kept off the field. Under the current policy, players are kept out of games for a minimum of seven games following a concussion.