'Concussion' doctor Bennet Omalu says MLB's seven-day DL is 'a joke'

While reporting on catcher concussions, CBS Sports encountered a few stories meriting more than just a mention. This is one of those. You can read our full article about catcher concussions here.

The San Diego Padres have had a rough season when it comes to catcher concussions. Backup Hector Sanchez missed a week in April after taking a ball off the mask. Meanwhile, starter Austin Hedges missed closer to two weeks due to his own concussion -- one that required vision training before he could rejoin the club.

In both cases, the Padres placed the catcher in question on the seven-day disabled list -- one of Major League Baseball's creations aimed to make teams take brain health seriously. Not everyone believes the seven-day DL is praiseworthy. "The seven-day period is a joke," forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu told CBS Sports. Omalu is credited with discovering CTE, and was portrayed by Will Smith in the movie "Concussion."

"When you've suffered a concussion, a concussion is pretty much microscopic fractures of the microscopic skeleton of the brain cells. By one week, the brain is very inflamed. For the fractures to disappear, and the brain will make an attempt to heal, it takes about three months," Omalu said. "If you fracture your bone, you'll be out of play for about three to six months. But remember, the skeleton has the ability to regenerate itself. The brain, when it suffers a concussion, does not have a reasonable capacity to regenerate itself.

"So, why would you take a player out for a fracture of the skeleton for three months, but when he suffers a concussion, you take him out for only one week?"

Other concussion experts see things differently. Dr Robert Cantu, a clinical professor of neurology and neurosurgery and co-founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, called the seven-day disabled list reasonable. "When somebody has a concussion, you have no way of knowing when they're going to be over their symptoms," he said. "The majority of people, roughly 80 percent, will be over their symptoms in seven to 10 days."

Baseball's seven-day DL was created in conjunction with medical experts.

You can read our full article about catcher concussions here.  

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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