Brock Holt Injury

On Friday, May 20, Brock Holt was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Reports say the injury occurred during a May 9 game when Holt made a diving attempt to stop a ground ball but landed awkwardly on the infield dirt. Holt didn’t hit his head on the play, but concussions aren’t always the result of a direct head impact and they aren’t always easy to detect, according to John-Paul Hezel, MD, a physiatrist in the Division of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“Athletes and non-athletes alike can get concussions a number of different ways, even without impact. Any acceleration or deceleration injury to the head can cause trauma.”

This isn’t the first time Holt has been sidelined with a concussion. In the ninth inning of an August 25, 2014 game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Holt collided with Dustin Pedroia as the two were chasing after a ground ball. That collision caused Holt to miss the final 21 games of the season.

Dr. Hezel believes it’s important to be aware of a patient’s history with concussions. “We don’t know the true extent of damage caused to the brain by multiple concussions,” said Hezel. “However, we do know that repeated trauma to the head can lead to depression, cognitive deficits and other long-term effects.”

Concussions are graded as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2) or severe (grade 3), depending on factors such as loss of consciousness, amnesia and the duration of symptoms. And while the severity of Holt’s concussion is unknown, Red Sox manager John Farrell says he won’t rush his player’s return.

According to Hezel, it’s important to treat concussions on a case-by-case basis. “Despite general classification systems for concussions, the key is that all patients are treated individually. Each treatment plan is based upon how the athlete feels and responds to tests at a particular point in time. There are guidelines, but no black-and-white paths for treatment.”

Since concussion symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to a few months, it’s important that athletes don’t rush back into physical activity. It’s also important that they rest from cognitive stimuli such as televisions, phones, computers or anything else that makes the brain work harder. “Rest is the first step to recovering from a concussion,” said Hezel. “It’s important to give the brain a break before getting back into activity.”

With more than 100 games left in the regular season, Holt has plenty of time to get his health in order before returning to the field. That sets the right example for all athletes.