Drew sent to concussion center

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew is headed for Pittsburgh on Tuesday to be evaluated over the next two days at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Drew has not played since March 7, when he was struck in the helmet by a pitch thrown by Twins pitcher Caleb Thielbar. At the time, Drew appeared OK. He remained in the game for another inning and did not complain of symptoms, but reported to the club the next day that he began to experience symptoms that night.

"We don't think there's anything more there, but we're trying to get a better understanding of what is there, if that's a way to describe it," Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday. "Just the fact he's still experiencing the same-type (concussion) symptoms, we just want to get our arms around this the best we can.''

The team has yet to declare that Drew will not be available at the start of the regular season, but it appears a foregone conclusion.

"That window is closing," Farrell said.

"Whatever precautions we can take for his care are first and foremost."

The Pittsburgh program's executive director, neuropsychologist Dr. Micky Collins, is clinical consultant for MLB on concussion injuries. He helped develop a testing tool, ImPACT (Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), which is used to develop a treatment and management plan.

According to the program's website, treatment specialists may prescribe physical therapy to treat symptoms of the injury and may prescribe medications, if certain symptoms persist, to help treat emotional, mood, sleep and cognitive concussion symptoms.

Drew is also scheduled to be seen by the program's neurovestibular expert, who studies the interaction between the brain and the vestibular organ, which is located in the inner ear. According to the website, the neurovestibular evaluation involves:

* Testing for and treating balance and ocular problems -- two potential symptoms of concussions.

* Working with physical therapists from the UPMC Center for Balance Disorders to begin vestibular therapy.

* Using techniques that help retrain the brain to understand complex environments that include space, motion, and head/eye movements, with exercises that focus on: vision, balance, motion and gait.

While Collins has worked with professional athletes in many sports, he has a personal connection to baseball: He played for the University of Southern Maine team that went to the 1989 College World Series.