Several changes to the N.F.L.’s concussion safety protocol, including requiring the presence of an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant at the league command center for all games, were revealed by league officials on Sunday.
The changes, backed by the N.F.L. and its players union, were agreed upon Dec. 11 by the league’s head, neck and spine committee. They went into effect the following weekend.
“We are constantly looking at the protocol and how it’s applied and trying to get better. The process happens throughout the season,” said Allen Sills, the N.F.L.’s chief medical officer.
A controversial Dec. 10 injury involving Houston quarterback Tom Savage and a misstep in the concussion protocol for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in Week 10 — which resulted in a $100,000 fine for the franchise — were among the controversies that motivated the late-season changes.
The consultant at the command center will monitor games by broadcast coverage and assist in implementing protocol, including contacting team medical staffs on the sidelines to ensure they are aware of situations as they develop.
An extra neurotrauma consultant will be at all NFL playoff games and February’s Super Bowl in Minnesota so that one will be available even if another is occupied with a previously injured player.
Among other changes, an impact seizure will be treated as a loss of consciousness and force removal of a player from a game.
A player who stumbles or falls to the ground trying to stand, unrelated to an orthopedic injury, will be sent directly to the locker room for examination. If a player passes the exam, he could be allowed to return to the game.
Injured players are to be taken directly to a medical team member for a concussion assessment.
All players who undergo any concussion evaluation in games will have a follow-up evaluation conducted the next day by a member of the medical staff.
Entering Sunday, there had been 540 game day concussion evaluations conducted this season with two reviews.