NEW YORK -- The NFL's new guidelines on concussion management include a telephone hotline that will make it easier to report to the league when a player with a head injury is being forced to practice or play against medical advice.
The league's new concussion guidelines, many of which stemmed from a conference in June involving team trainers and doctors, were formalized Tuesday and will be sent to all players and other team personnel.
They include whistleblower provisions for individuals to report concussions with the telephone hotline and a booklet that will allow players and their families to identify symptoms.
"We want to make sure all NFL players, coaches and staff members are fully informed and take advantage of the most up-to-date information and resources as we continue to study the long-term impact of concussions," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement issued by the league.
"Because of the unique and complex nature of the brain, our goal is to continue to have concussions managed conservatively by outstanding medical personnel in a way that clearly emphasizes player safety over competitive concerns."
Concussions have become an increasingly high priority for Goodell and team officials in the past year. Last spring, the commissioner announced that all players would be given baseline tests during their training camp physicals that can be used to diagnose when they have concussions.
Former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson told The New York Times in February he was showing signs of early Alzheimer's disease.
The concussion issue is also part of the continued dispute between some retired players on one side and the league and the NFL Players Association on the other over disability benefits to retirees.
In addition, the league and the NFL Players Association have created a plan that contributes as much as $88,000 per year to former players suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. So far, doctors have not been able to link the effect of concussions to those players.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday that the mailings are an effort to make everyone involved with the NFL aware of how to identify concussions. They also spell out the guidelines agreed upon by doctors and trainers on when a player with a concussion should be allowed to return to the field.
The guidelines include prohibiting any player who has lost conciseness from returning to a game or practice. It outlines the symptoms, which include confusion; problems with immediate recall; disorientation and blurred vision and says that a player should have no concussion symptoms and normal neurological test results before returning to play.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press