For George to play in Saturday's Game 3 against the Miami Heat, he must complete the NBA's concussion return-to-participation protocol.
George was hurt when Heat guard Dwyane Wade kneed him in the back of the head midway through the fourth quarter of the Pacers' 87-83 Game 2 loss on Tuesday. George stayed in the game, but said afterward that he "blacked out as soon as [the hit] happened."
According to the league's concussion policy, any player diagnosed with a concussion must be held out of all activity "until he is symptom-free at rest and until he has no appreciable difference from his baseline neurological exam and his baseline score on the computerized cognitive assessment test." The player also must complete the league's return-to-participation protocol.
The protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion, "from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills." A player must be symptom-free to move to each step. According to the NBA, "if a player is not symptom-free after a step, he stops until he is symptom-free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol."
The league does not have a timeframe to complete the protocol. The decision on whether George can return will be decided by the Pacers' team physician, who must discuss the decision and George's progress in the protocol with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, director of the NBA's concussion program.
Kutcher said the Pacers' medical staff followed the correct procedures after the injury, even though George returned to the game. Both Kutcher and the Pacers said there was no evidence of a concussion during the game.
"This case illustrates that concussion evaluation is an ongoing process and manifestations of the injury may not always present immediately," Kutcher said.
The Pacers said in a statement that immediately after George collided with Wade he exhibited no symptoms of a concussion and denied dizziness, nausea and issues with his vision in response to questions from the Pacers medical staff. George, the Pacers said, was active and aware of his surroundings.
The Pacers said George first mentioned that he "blacked out" when speaking to reporters after the game. The Pacers then conducted the NBA-mandated concussion assessment, which did not reveal any active symptoms of concussion. The team decided to take George to see a neurologist on Wednesday. He was diagnosed with a concussion after further testing and evaluation.
George is averaging 21.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists in the playoffs. The Pacers and Heat are tied 1-1 in the East finals.
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