NFL's kickoff rule may have led to reduction in concussions

August 8, 2012

Topic: Injury prevention

Altitude levels affect concussion rates

Changes in the kickoff play in NFL football games may have led to a decrease in the number of reported concussions between 2010 and 2011, as reported by the Associated Press.

In an effort to decrease the incidence of traumatic brain injuries that football players sustain on the field, the NFL changed the rules about kickoffs, requiring that they take place at the 35-yard line. The intended effect of this injury prevention measure was to reduce the number of kick returns and increase touchbacks.

As a result, the number of concussions that took place during kickoffs fell from 35 in 2010 to 20 in 2011, amounting to a 43 percent drop. This also led to a decrease in the overall number of concussions.

''Obviously, touchbacks are very unlikely to have a concussion on the field,'' Jesse David, senior vice president at Edgeworth Economics, told the news source. ''Not impossible, because there's blocking going on and that sort of thing, but the big hits are going to be reduced, obviously, by not having a return.''

If not treated properly, concussions may lead to lifelong impairments in cognitive functions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other data analysis from David's firm revealed that the NFL saw an overall rise in the total number of injuries between 2010 and 2011. This may be due to better surveillance on the part of the NFL.

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