NBA’s new concussion guidelines might delay Kobe Bryant’s return … and that’s a good thing

The Lakers listed superstar guard Kobe Bryant as day-to-day after announcing Tuesday afternoon he suffered a concussion in addition to a broken nose after Dwyane Wade clobbered him during the All-Star Game on Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

However, it appears unlikely Bryant will be cleared to play Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves because the NBA’s new concussion protocol is designed to ensure players are symptom-free before they return to the court.

Bryant skipped Tuesday’s practice to visit Dr. John Rehm, an ear, nose and throat specialist who confirmed the original diagnosis of a broken nose. Rehm also recommended Bryant undergo an MRI exam and visit a neurologist to address other unspecified symptoms. Bryant then visited Dr. Vern Williams, who diagnosed a concussion. Williams is scheduled to examine Bryant again Wednesday.

Under the NBA’s strict new guidelines for concussions, Bryant must complete a series of steps to confirm he’s fit to play. Once he is free of symptoms, he must advance through increasingly more difficult stages of physical exertion.

Bryant must ride a stationary bike, jog, perform agility exercises and then engage in non-contact drills with his teammates while ensuring the symptoms do not return after each increase in activity. The NBA’s concussion specialist must then clear him.

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, was hired in December to serve as director of the NBA’s concussion program. Kutcher’s role is to ensure players do not return to the court too quickly.

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