WWE officially announced today that Daniel Bryan has been cleared to return to the ring. It was stated that he was medically cleared by neurologists and concussion experts, including Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Javier Cárdenas and Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher. They noted that he was also cleared by WWE's Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon.
Bryan's last match was in April of 2015 when he suffered a concussion. He retired the following February after an EEG test revealed slowing of brain activity and a "small, subacute lesion" in an area of his brain that causes seizures. Bryan was on the Edge & Christian podcast last August and revealed that his retirement may have been premature.
"All of a sudden, one of the doctors that had cleared me calls me and said, 'Bryan, what happened? Like, you ran through all this testing and everything was fine. What happened?'," Bryan said. "And I told him what had happened. I said, 'they found a lesion on the temporal parietal region of my brain.' And he goes, 'wait, hold up - a lesion?' And I said, 'yeah,' and I don't know what a 'lesion' means to you guys, but a lesion to me means you have a cut, right? Like I have a cut on my brain. And he goes, 'no, a lesion in medical terminology is a very vague thing. It just says something is there, right? Like, we don't know what it is, so we call it a lesion in the temporal parietal region of your brain."
Bryan had been working to get cleared for awhile now, and has said that he would wrestle elsewhere when his WWE contract expires in September if he were healthy and WWE would not clear him.
Bryan will be returning to SmackDown Live! on tonight's episode. There has been speculation that Bryan will team with Shane McMahon to face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at WrestleMania. Join us this evening for our live coverage of the show.
Below is the official statement sent to Wrestling Inc.:
WWE® SUPERSTAR DANIEL BRYAN® MEDICALLY CLEARED TO RETURN
STAMFORD, Conn., March 20, 2018 – Following more than two years of extensive evaluations, WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan has been medically cleared to return to in-ring competition by leading neurosurgeons, neurologists and concussion experts, including Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Javier Cárdenas and Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.
Bryan underwent a full review of his medical history and received comprehensive neurological and physical evaluations independent of WWE. He was cleared by each doctor as well as WWE's Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon.
About Dr. Robert Cantu
Currently Dr. Cantu's professional responsibilities include those of Clinical Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Co-Founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; Senior Advisor to the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee; Founding member, Co-Founder, Medical Director, and Chairman Medical Advisory Board Concussion Legacy Foundation, Boston, MA; Adjunct Professor Exercise and Sport Science and Medical Director National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; Co-Director, Neurologic Sports Injury Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; Medical Director and Director of Clinical Research at the Cantu Concussion Center at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts; and Neurosurgical Consultant Boston Eagles football team.
Dr. Cantu consults with numerous NFL, NHL and NBA teams, and served as Neurosurgical Consultant to the Boston Cannons professional soccer team from 2003-2010. Dr. Cantu also serves on the Mackey White TBI advisory committee to the NFLPA, and on the International Rugby Board's independent advisory group on concussion.
About Dr. Javier Cárdenas
Javier Cárdenas, MD, is a neurologist and the director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center. He is board certified in neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Cárdenas' expertise involves concussion, post-concussion syndrome, spinal trauma, and traumatic brain injury. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology; the National Football League Head, Neck and Spine Committee; and the Arizona Governor's Advisory Council on Spinal and Head Injuries.
Dr. Cárdenas received his medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He completed a residency in pediatrics at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and trained in child neurology at Barrow Neurological Institute. Dr. Cárdenas created the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center, which is the nation's most comprehensive concussion prevention, treatment, and education program. He also created Barrow Brainbook, which Arizona high school students must complete to participate in school sports. It is the first mandated online concussion education and testing tool for student athletes in the country.
About Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher
Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher is a board-certified neurologist, specializing in sports neurology, including concussion, post-concussion syndrome, and the long-term effects of sports on athlete brain health. He serves as the National Director of The Sports Neurology Clinic. Dr. Kutcher is currently the Team Neurologist for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association and served as the Team Neurologist for the United States Olympic Team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
He is the Director of the National Basketball Association's concussion program and works as an advisor to the Players' Associations of both the National Football League and the National Hockey League. He has also helped develop the concussion policies of the NCAA, several collegiate athletic programs and conferences, as well as local and national youth sport organizations.
About Dr. Joseph Maroon
Joseph C. Maroon, MD, is the Medical Director for WWE. Dr. Maroon is a board-certified clinical professor of neurological surgery and Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is also the Heindl Scholar in Neuroscience. He is Team Neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee for concussion.
Working with neuropsychologist, Mark Lovell, PhD, he co-developed ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). ImPACT is the first FDA approved computerized system to determine concussion severity and the timing for return to contact sports. It is now the standard of care for concussion management in the NFL, NHL, major league baseball, NASCAR and is used in over 12,000 colleges and high schools in the United States. For over 20 years he has served as the neurosurgical consultant to professional and college athletes in football, baseball, golf, hockey and soccer, including the Pittsburgh Steelers.