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Senators’ MacArthur will need to pass ‘neuro-psych test’ in order to play again

Clarke MacArthur hasn’t played an NHL game since Oct. 14, 2015, and a full-body “neuro-psych test” awaits the veteran winger before he can get the green light to return to action.

Clarke MacArthur’s journey back from his latest concussion — and his fourth in 18 months — will require him to clear a few more hurdles before he can get back into action, the latest of which is a reported full-body test.

MacArthur, 31, was recently cleared to start doing battle drills in practice, has said he feels better and is trying to target the early part of 2017 for his return to the ice, but before he can get the green light to start taking actual body checks and potentially suit up again in an NHL regular season game, MacArthur needs to undergo a “neuro-psych test,” he told the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren.

“If I get through the neuro-psych test and I feel good about that, that will be enough for the doctors, I would think,” MacArthur told Warren. “And for me, that will put me in a better place. For me to fully feel better, confident and everything, I’ve got to get hit.”

The test, MacArthur explained, is somewhat different from your standard baseline concussion test. Instead of a “paper and pen” concussion test, MacArthur told Warren he’ll be wearing full workout gear and the doctor administering the test will be judging everything, including MacArthur’s reaction time, which is something he’ll need to be on point if he plans to return to the high-speed and high-contact nature of the NHL.

“You have to at least give them a reason to think you can come back and play,” MacArthur told Warren. “We’re really fortunate to have (concussion specialist Dr. Mark Aubry). He has been looking after me for the last year and a half…If he says he feels confident I can play, I trust him fully.”

MacArthur told Warren that he feels as though he has progressed during the short time he has been allowed physical contact, which has occurred between MacArthur and Senators defenseman Marc Methot during practice sessions. In fact, MacArthur went as far to say that he couldn’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be able to get back on the ice given how he’s feeling.

That would be great news for the Senators, who have missed MacArthur from their lineup. His value as a two-way winger and depth piece has been made all the more evident over the past two seasons.

However, there will undoubtedly be concern about MacArthur returning. His last regular season game came on Oct. 14, 2015 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he has been limited to practices ever since. MacArthur suffered his latest concussion in one of the only bits of pseudo-game action he’s seen when he was hit from behind by Senators defenseman Patrick Sieloff during a pre-season scrimmage. 

If he does get back, any serious jolt MacArthur takes is going to be concerning for MacArthur, his family, his teammates and those watching, but he said earlier this month that he wants to get out there and fulfill his five-year, $23.25-million deal — a contract that he has played just four games under.

“It’s a risk,” MacArthur told the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch earlier this month. “For sure it’s a risk but it’s my risk, but I feel I’ve completely come around full circle…I haven’t been able to fulfil anything in this contract I’ve signed, and that’s a kind of cloud over top of me.”

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