Friday, January 11, 2013

Full Court Press: NFL Concussions

Concussions have become a hot topic of conversation in the NFL throughout the season. It is an inevitable consequence for such a violent sport, but it has become apparent that the NFL is doing its part to reduce the risk. Roger Goodell has worked diligently to manage the influx of concussions, and the likelihood of future brain trauma. New rules were developed before the season began such as protecting hits on “defenseless players”. Referees are now urged to be stricter on hits to a receiver’s head even when both feet are on the ground. The NFL will continue to improve the rulebook in an effort to keep its players safe and on the field.

There have been increased discussions on helmet use in the NFL. Many people believe that certain types or brands of helmets can be more protective of athletes. Others believe that the issues stem from players not wearing them properly, or the helmets constantly falling off during games.
One of the biggest issues for medical trainers and coaches to focus on right now is knowing when to allow their concussed players to return to the playing field. The NFL has aligned specific guidelines for determining when that can take place. Although some teams have stricter rules for their players, most teams follow the timeline mapped out by the commissioner. A press release sent to all teams specifies that the player must be completely asymptomatic, receive neurological tests that show no signs of unusual brain behavior, if they lose consciousness during a game they will not be permitted to return, and prior history of concussions by that player will delay the time until they are enabled to play again.

The objectives behind these new rules and regulations by the organization is not only to protect their players from future harm, but also to protect themselves from continuing lawsuits stemming from post-career brain trauma. As the years go on, the NFL will continue to make changes in the league to limit the risk of concussions. However, players will also continue to get stronger, faster, and bigger, and concussions may remain a predictable result of this dangerous game. 

1 comment:

  1. As you touched on in the last line, I think the size, speed and athleticism of the players are the primary reasons for the concussion problem.

    More problems I see are the use of the helmet as a weapon (by defensive AND offensive players) and how easily replaceable players are if they are unwilling to return to the field before they are ready.

    Good brief post on this issue. We all know this argument could fill its own encyclopedia.