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According to league data obtained by The Associated Press in December, the number of concussions being reported this past season was up more than 30 percent from 2008. The league considered that proof teams and players were taking head injuries more seriously and being more open about them.
Delfino, who returned to play Jan. 21, was out 2 1/2 months with symptoms that included headaches, nausea and fatigue following what he believes was his second concussion in less than a year.
The Argentine said he thinks he sustained an initial concussion last March 26 when he stumbled and landed face down in the lane driving for a layup. Miami’s Udonis Haslem jumped for the loose ball and inadvertently landed on the back of Delfino’s head and neck. Delfino said he was knocked unconscious.
He missed three games the next week, but returned. The team described Delfino’s absence at the time as being due to neck and jaw soreness.
In November, he said he was hit in the head against Minnesota on Oct. 29, followed by additional blows to the head against Charlotte the next night and Indiana on Nov. 5. When the Bucks played New Orleans on Nov. 6, Delfino only lasted 17 minutes.
“Everything was moving so fast and so different. It was kind of a feeling of being on a boat. Everything was moving, everything was fast and the basketball was deep, far away from me. It just wasn’t right,” Delfino said. “I didn’t take care of the injury like I should have, because the last time I passed out.”
Still, he spent a long time with specialists and team trainers, talking about how best to protect against another blow to the head. He even looked into wearing a soft-sided helmet like some soccer players have used.
“You’re thinking, ‘What is going on in my head? What is going on with me? Am I going to be back, am I going to be the same?’ You have all these questions,” Delfino said. “You just go and try to sit on the couch or sit on the bed and just try to stay quiet. Then you start to think, and when you start to think, you’re using your brain again and you’ve got headaches again.”
Delfino said after passing neurocognitive tests he spent several additional weeks rehabilitating.
Mbah a Moute believes it shouldn’t be left to individual teams to determine what needs to be done in the wake of a concussion. He said all players should pass tests that include neurocognitive exams and reaching physical exertion benchmarks before returning.
“I think it’s only right. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s something that people should want to do if you have a concussion,” he said. “I would want to do those tests to make sure I’m OK, to make sure I’m ready to be back on the court and not expose myself again.”
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York contributed to this story.
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