As speculated after Paul George said that he “blacked out” during Game 3 and played the rest of the game “blurry,” the Pacers medical staff has determined that he did suffer a concussion.
The team released the following statement.
Tuesday night, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George took a knee to the back of his head during the fourth quarter of the Eastern Conference Finals game against Miami. Immediately after the play, George exhibited no symptoms of a concussion and, in response to questions from the Pacers’ medical staff, he denied dizziness, nausea, and issues with his vision. He was also active and aware of his surroundings. As a result, the Indiana medical staff did not suspect a concussion.
Following the game, George stated for the first time that he “blacked out” on the play. As a result of this statement, the team conducted the NBA-mandated concussion assessment, which did not reveal any active symptoms of concussion.
Because of the statement and Indiana’s ongoing evaluation and management of potential concussions, George underwent further testing and evaluation Wednesday morning. He has been diagnosed by the team’s consulting neurologist with a concussion, based on his post-game reporting that he had briefly lost consciousness during the game. He will begin the NBA-mandated protocol for return-to-participation after a diagnosed concussion.
Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, Director of the NBA Concussion Program, has been in contact with the team medical staff and stated, “The Indiana Pacers medical team followed the NBA concussion protocol and there was no indication of concussion during the game. This case illustrates that concussion evaluation is an ongoing process and manifestations of the injury may not always present immediately.”
Obviously, the Pacers are trying to get in front of any backlash that could (and already has) come their way for allowing a guy to continue to play basketball after suffering head trauma. Some people watching were claiming at the time, on Twitter, that PG didn’t look right out there after he took the hit.
Still, the process is the process, and the Pacers say their doctors went through the due diligence after the incident. George didn’t exhibit symptoms at that time, according to the team.
Regardless of what has already happened, this means that George now must go through the league-mandated concussion protocol tests before he can play again.
Here is the relevant part of the protocol that George must now go through.
Return-to Participation Decisions:
- Once a player is diagnosed with a concussion he is then held out of all activity until he is symptom-free at rest and until he has no appreciable difference from his baseline neurological exam and his baseline score on the computerized cognitive assessment test.
- The concussed player may not return to participation until he is asymptomatic at rest and has successfully completed the NBA concussion return-to-participation exertion protocol.
Return-to Participation Protocol:
- The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion — from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
- With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
- While the final return-to participation decision is to be made by the player’s team physician, the team physician must discuss the return-to-participation process and decision with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the Director of the NBA’s Concussion Program, prior to the player being cleared for full participation in NBA Basketball.
- It’s important to note that there is no timeframe to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.
The most important thing here is obviously Paul George’s long-term mental health, not basketball.
Hopefully for the Pacers, George will be ready in time for Game 3 — which fortunately for them isn’t until Saturday — but a full recovery on any timeline is the ultimate goal everyone should be hoping for.