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Concussion Incidence and Return-To-Play Time in National Basketball Association Players. Results from 2006 to 2014

Background: Various research efforts have studied concussions in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League. However, no study has investigated the incidence and return-to-play trends in the National Basketball Association (NBA), which this study aims to do. Hypothesis: Increased media scrutiny and public awareness, in addition to the institution of a league-wide concussion protocol, may have resulted in more conservative return-to-play practices. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study. Methods: All concussions to NBA players that were publicly reported in the media from the beginning of the 2006 NBA season to the end of the 2014 season were included. The incidence and return-to-play statistics were generated by synthesizing information from publicly available records. Results: There were 134 publicly reported concussions to NBA players from the beginning of the 2006 season to the conclusion of the 2014 season, resulting in an average of 14.9 concussions per season. The incidence has not changed significantly during this time span. The average games missed after a concussion from 2006 to 2010 was 1.6, significantly less than the 5.0 games missed from 2011 to 2014, following the institution of the NBA concussion protocol (P = .023). Conclusion: Although the incidence of publicly reported concussions in the NBA has not changed appreciably over the past 9 seasons, the time missed after a concussion has. While players often returned in the same game in the 2006 season, the combination of implemented policy, national coverage, medical staff awareness, and player education may have contributed to players now missing an average of 4 to 6 games after a concussion. A multitude of factors has resulted in more conservative return-to-play practices for NBA players after concussions.