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2014 NFL Concussion Report: Week 1

13 Sep

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  You can also view our white paper with original research about concussion reporting in the NFL from 2010-2012 HERE.

It is always interesting to see what the first week will reveal in the way of concussions.  In the past we have had significant numbers (2012 – 12 and 2011 – 9) and we have had strangely low numbers (2013 – 5).  During the first three weeks all teams are playing games – no byes – so, we should expect “larger” numbers because there are more players on the field.  However, it should be noted that it is also very early in the season and the speculated cumulative effect of repetitive brain trauma has yet to take hold.

Over the past four years we have seen a steady incline in reported concussions each week with a spike around weeks 12-14, it will be worth following and noting as we go along.  Our 2013 End of Season Report.

Other than that, I did not notice any other newsworthy incidents – well we did notice that Arizona had a concussion after going entire preseason without one – in fact I would say the conversation on broadcasts and in print were very much proactive, in terms of the injury.  I sensed a lot less “pussyfooting” around with the term concussion and the evaluation of the injury.  We really need this to continue.

Now is the time for the Week 1 recap of concussions (will indicate previous week);  Continue reading

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2014 NFL Concussion Report: Week 0

4 Sep

Sq 300 JThe Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  You can also view our white paper with original research about concussion reporting in the NFL from 2010-2012 HERE.

It is 2014 and The Concussion Blog’s fifth year collecting concussion data from the NFL.  By now – I hope – you have read our original research about what we have done (can be found above by clicking “HERE”).  In that white paper you will see how data is collected and what we have noted to this point in data crunching.  It is obviously our hope that we can get more numbers and refine what we know.

Week 0 represents the end of the preseason; as you have noted we don’t do much than provide a quick glance at what happened on our way to the start of the season.  There are a myriad of reasons we don’t “crunch” the numbers like regular season.  The biggest is that there is not a standard reporting system in place for the teams – to the public – like that of the Official Injury Report of the NFL.  Regardless, with the better awareness and access (looking at @NFLConcussions) we can get better numbers in a preseason.  For example, when we started collecting data in 2010, we could only find FOUR preseason concussion, ONLY 1, 2, 3, FOUR.  This year there has been 68 found; quite the change.

The answer to your next question is, no.  No, concussions have not risen that drastically in five years.

It is our plan to bring to you a concise weekly update of the numbers, using your capture points for you the reader to make of it what you will.  However, going forward you should look for the following trends:

  • Does the Tight End continue to be the most prone to concussions
  • Will reporting numbers increase
  • Will the trend of defensive players being concussed remain constant
  • Will there be another uptick in starters being concussed
  • Will any rule modifications make a change in numbers
  • Will there be “creative titling” for head injuries (see stingers and concussion-like)

Again, it is not our agenda to create a “gotcha” for the NFL or any league, rather we would like to see a true baseline of concussions in the NFL.  So, we can truly see the effectiveness of all the changes being implemented.

Here is the snapshot of the NFL concussions from the preseason:  Continue reading

Concussion Trends 2010-2012; TCB Original Research

26 Aug

The National Football League is nine days away from the kickoff of its regular season.  If social media, fantasy sports, and hype are any indication 2014 is set up to one of the most watched seasons in history.  There are plenty of story lines abound: from each division, to playing time of newly drafted players, to veterans returning from injury, and of course concussions.

The league is doing its best to keep concussions from overriding the game itself, as they should be.  Concussion is but just one of a myriad of injuries sustained in the sport; plus it is not unique to just American Football.  However this issue continues to gain/keep traction because of the relatively late and “slow-footed” response to this topic.  Even though the settlement with the players has been all but signed-sealed-delivered (there are some interesting issues posed by Patrick Hruby that are worth noting), the youth arm of the league is promoting and teaching a “safer” way of tackling, and the talking points about this injury are becoming more evident from players and the league; there still is a shroud of secrecy.  In all the hand-wringing and court battles and public relations scuffles the leader of this glorious sport has yet to “rip the band-aid off” and assess the situation.

How can you assess the situation?  I think it is rather simple: gather data to find out the “true” value of actual concussions sustained in the NFL over a season.  Then and only then can you see if any changes brought forth are actually helping the cause.

Sure the league has its own data and is probably doing just that, but it is so far behind a curtain, tucked in a corner where light has no chance of hitting it.  I have always thought we should be transparent on this issue; or at least have a truly (Pollyannaish) independent data collection group for it.  At the very least an Ombudsman should be hawking this situation, for this is not going to go away over night.  It won’t go away until we can definitively say ‘X’ is the way to play this game with ‘Y’ & ‘Z’ at the professional level; then each subsequent level below the pro ranks need to modify based upon age and development.

The NFL probably doesn’t want this responsibility for it comes with some liability, not only on the medical front but in the public relations department…  SO WHAT!  When I chose to have a child I didn’t have the choice to be a role model and change the way I played life in order to make sure my children grew up safe and learned a better way to live.  The NFL is basically the “father figure” for the other levels of this great sport.  I have heard a great saying, it was applied to business in general: “the tree rots from the top”.  This is exactly the case in a family, in a business and in sport.

When the blog began in 2010 there was no way to find out how many concussions were occurring in the NFL without Continue reading

Training Camps in NFL Open Up

28 Jul

With the summer pilgrimage to training camps begun it is time to remind everyone that The Concussion Blog will be tracking the concussion injuries in the NFL for the fifth consecutive season.  It is our intention and has been our operating procedure to gather all the best data possible.

This is not a “witch hunt” or some “watch dog” type action, rather a way to inform, publicly, what is happening at the highest and most prolific level, for the most popular sport in the United States.

When we began back in 2010, the information was difficult to come by, we only noted and found eight preseason concussions and as of today there are four reported for this season.  Obviously there has been better knowledge about concussion from players, teams and reporters that has translated in easier tracking for the preseason activities.

I would like to take the time to mention @nflconcussions for their work in data mining the injuries.  Their Twitter account is probably the most productive when it comes to finding concussions.  They too have “reset” their counter for this season, if you follow them (and you should if you are interested) you will notice their numbers will be different from our reports once the regular season begins.

We data crunch only for the regular season due to reporting procedures from the NFL, making those injuries a bit more easy to find.  We also have other avenues to find concussions that may not make the press and are gathered by other places.  Finally there are some instances where a “possible” concussion turns out to be not a concussion.  We are not, in any way, discrediting any other concussion gathering group, we are just pointing out we do it differently.  Regardless, it would be a heck of a lot easier if the NFL was transparent with all injuries including concussions.

So enjoy what is left of your summer, and look forward to our first report coming out near the start of the season.

 

Please Let This Be The Beginning: A Public Invitation

28 Apr

The blog began simply enough, making notice of information about concussion in a time when there was so much misunderstanding.  It turned into a cathartic exercise on how I have dealt with concussions as an athletic trainer – the good and the bad.  It has slowly morphed into a platform for change; not only concussions but the healthcare profession of athletic training, in particular at the secondary school level (high school).

Adolescent concussion is not only staggering in terms of exposure but in terms of mismanagement, the true problem in this concussion crisis, in my humble opinion.  I feel – biased – that athletic trainers not only can help with the management but with the overall “acceptance” of this brain injury as it relates to sports.  Because of those thoughts I have been openly and behind the scenes, clamoring for a way to get more AT’s in the high school.  Not just game-day ATC’s either, full-time and daily coverage for our most vulnerable.  The analogy still remains: would you send you kid to a public swimming pool without a life guard on duty?  Why would you send your kid to collision sports without an athletic trainer on duty?

Yes, this is being spurred on by the concussion issue at hand, but in reality an athletic trainer is SO MUCH MORE!  We deal with the mundane (common cold) to the emergent (cardiac arrest) when it comes to athletic or high school (dealing with situations during a school day) injuries.

I came across a tweet today from Rick Burkholder (@proatc), Head Athletic Trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs that is putting this into action.

The NFL is starting a grant process to place certified athletic trainers (ATC’s) into more high schools.  The monies are limited from what I can tell, but this is the start that I have been dreaming of for the past few years.

You can read the entire NFLF ATC Grant by clicking on the link to see all the details but here are the highlights: Continue reading

Sylvia Mackey – Video

27 Mar

In a follow-up, and what I believe to be the same presentation that Elanor Profetto’s video is from a very strong and wonderful woman, Sylvia Mackey, “Mrs. 88″ gives a talk about brain injury.  She also has intimate and troubling experience with what brain injury/disease can do as she took care of the great John Mackey in is twilight.

Keep on learning and listening!

Repost: Matt Chaney’s Take on Heads Up Football

21 Feb

The following was posted here on TCB 10/24/13, I feel with the traffic it has been garnering that it should be reposted at the top of the cue for the time being.  It is worth comment and questions…

The post below is from Matt Chaney’s Blog, re-posted (in part) here with his permission.  We are posting it here not as an endorsement, rather as an opposing view that is worth the read.  Our commentary on this article by Chaney will be below this post.  We encourage everyone to see the entire post on his blog.  You can view it by clicking on the hotlink, it is titled; ‘Heads Up Football’: Truth, Tales and Legal Consequences.  *Chaney has moved his blog and we are efforting the current link of his original article.  However, he does read the comments from time to time so if you have question leave it here and he may get to it.

==========

By Matt Chaney

Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Peter King posits bogus hitting technique as Safer Football in Sports Illustrated

—geezuz, the further we go in this latest football crisis, the worse many people become, willingly, on behalf of the sexy blood sport… and so Peter King of SI skips along, telling us bona fide prevention is possible for football’s irreversible head-ramming… a new post by the Hall of Fame football scribe portrays Heads Up ‘proper contact’ as legitimate; King purports this theoretical headless hitting can be instilled by coaches, enforced by referees, adopted by players… I’d like to see King demonstrate on a football field, suited-up himself for forward collisions governed by physics and bullet-head helmets; he’d ram, too, or get his ass kicked… look, folks, players cannot govern or stop ramming on a football field; rather, forces of the crazy game dictate human behavior… forget talk and trust your eyesight, especially naïve parents and kids, to understand Heads Up ‘technique’ is invalid, unreliable, a lienothing new: it’s mere rehash of musty old ‘head up’ form hitting, proven invalid since the 1960s… here’s King, introducing his discussion:

What’s been eye-opening to discover is the trickle-down effect from the NFL to youth football. As the pro league emphasizes safety more and more, so do high schools around America. … Coaches are concerned; 41 of 49 polled [by SI] said they have modified training techniques because of increased education about concussions and head trauma.

—sure, trickle-down effect will reform football danger, once again… solution for brain trauma in the collision game is just around the corner… like trickle-down ‘steroid awareness’ for football’s immense problem with anabolic substances…  King continues:

Several high school coaches emphasized the NFL teaching new tackling techniques, such as “Heads Up Football,” which teaches coaches to train kids to tackle with heads up—instead of using the helmet as a battering ram. Said Middlebury Union (Vt.) coach Dennis Smith: “In any drills we’re doing—whether it be fundamental drills at the beginning of practices, especially defensive practices—we’re always stressing head up. You have to be able to see what you’re tackling.” … Said Brandon (Miss.) coach Brad Peterson: “We always start the year, whether spring or fall, with walking through the proper techniques of tackling.” … The coach of E.O. Smith High in Storrs, Conn., Jody Minotti, said he knows he can’t prevent every concussion, but he trains his players to minimize the risks. “We do less contact throughout the week and we teach proper tackling,” said Minotti. “We preach in practice all of the time, ‘Bite the ball. Bite the ball.’ That means keep your head up and don’t ever lead with your helmet. We film tackling, we talk about tackling whenever we’re watching film.”

—huh, these coaches don’t address the facemask dilemma, the prime fault of football rules behind the charade of Continue reading

2013 End of Season NFL Concussion Report

31 Jan

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

It has been weeks since you have seen us post about the concussion numbers in the NFL.  A quick explanation; at the end of the year with trouble finding Week 17 numbers we search for a few days, then we sit on numbers and cross check with sources which takes time.  Finally going through and I.D.ing other factors like helmets and new parameters takes some time.  It also helps that the past few years the NFL waits until Super Bowl Week to release their numbers.

Let us first opine about the released NFL numbers via NY Times;

In the preseason and the regular season, players sustained 228 concussions, down from 261 in 2012, when concussions rose 4 percent compared with the previous year. Helmet-to-helmet contact caused almost half the concussions this season, down from 53 percent in 2012. But more concussions occurred when players hit their heads against an opposing player’s knee or the ground.

The whole number for the season is only nine off from what we collected here.  Which tells me that what we are doing is as accurate as you can find anywhere outside of the NFL (actual players notwithstanding).  But where were the missed nine?  I happen to think its a combination of preseason and Week 17.  So, we are happy with our collection system.

The 13% drop is both accurate and inaccurate in our estimation.  Hows that you ask?  In the regular season Continue reading

The OTL Investigation on ‘Heads Up’ Football

14 Jan

It may have slipped some of your reading or viewing, but ESPN’s Outside the Lines did a piece on the USA Football Heads Up Program.  The article and video were presented last Sunday morning – I cannot find a YouTube version of the OTL show but you can find that part HERE.  The seven minute presentation is great for a quick overview of the issues ESPN has found.

For more in-depth coverage you should read the article by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, the same authors that penned League of Denial.  There are some wonderful points brought to light by the Fainaru’s;

The program teaches concussion awareness and proper helmet fitting, but its central tenet is the soon-to-be trademarked Heads Up Tackling program. When executed properly, proponents say, Heads Up Tackling literally takes the head out of the game. Players are taught to keep their heads up and lead with their shoulders when tackling.

[...]

But critics view Heads Up as a cynical marketing ploy — a repackaging of old terminology to reassure parents at a time the sport is confronting a widening health crisis.

There is a reason I have been “relatively” quiet on this topic; it’s because they are doing some very good things in the way of education and helmet fitting.  As you may know I am huge on the topic of awareness when it comes to concussions.  I have stated many times that the injury itself is not the “ice burg we can see above the water” rather it’s the mismanagement of the concussion that is the massive ice chunk we cannot see from the surface.

That being said, with the actual tackling technique being taught I too feel this is a repackaging of an old mantra.  Rules were even put in place as early as the 70’s to accomplish this task of taking the head out of the game.  Face tackling, spearing and butt blocking all have been on the books as penalties to help avoid using the head as a weapon.

The problem being that those are not called very often, when they are called they are inconsistent at best, and what has it done for the game over nearly 40 years?  I am not nearly as critical as others;  Continue reading

2013 Week 16 NFL Concussion Report

27 Dec

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

This is the last set of numbers I feel most confident about, as you will recall this coming week has proven to be difficult at best when finding concussions in the NFL.  Rather than boring you in this post with the reasons please click on the link above for that information.

In Week 16 there were only 13 concussions found, I say “only” because it seemed to Twitter, broadcasts and me, there were more players that exhibited something on the field that warranted further investigation.  The skeptic in me is also screaming at me to say that playoff eligible teams – especially those that have not clinched – are “gaming” they injury system.  To be fair, concussions are not the only injury being messed around in the “grey area”.  As I said that is the skeptic in me, the recent weeks have placed some better faith in the reporting system this season.

Something must be done to address – at the least acknowledge what we have found – the massive back-end of the season concussions we continue to see on a yearly basis.  The numbers cannot be easily washed away with the narrative that all teams are playing (versus bye weeks) as we have exposed.  It is very stark, the difference: weeks 1-9 there were 67 concussions in weeks 10-16 there have been 92.  When the NFL talks of expanding the schedule to 18 games I fear we will see an even bigger increase in the back half of the season.  There is a possible solution (more of a band-aid) though: two bye weeks.  It will expand the season further, but I don’t think the NFL really minds, in fact I think that is the overall goal.

Further observations of the numbers show the perpetual story of defensive backs being concussed most often.  As of this report the DB’s make up 26% of all concussions (41), the next closes it tight ends at 14% (22).  In fact, running backs (17), wide receivers (21), offensive lineman (21), linebackers (16) and TE’s are somewhat equal.  Even the defensive lineman are close to that grouping with 13.  Making all positions on the field outside of quarterbacks, DB’s and P/K somewhat equal in terms of the injury.

While we would like to see as few as possible, if concussions were equal across all positions (outside of QB, P/K) it would show that the injury is becoming a random incident.  Which is really the best case possible.  However, its not and the DB’s continue to be the most at risk players on the field, yet they also have some of the most restrictive tackling rules in place.

Now let us look at the Week 16 report (previous weeks numbers): Continue reading

The Abyss of NFL Concussion Reporting: Week 17

27 Dec

As football fans we are either gearing up to root on our favorite teams for a playoff and hopeful Super Bowl run, or the other 20 fan bases time is now spent looking at coaching changes, player acquisitions and the draft.  It has been a fun and exciting season for various reasons.  In terms of concussion data collection it will complete our fourth year and it has been a success once again.

However Week 17 provides for some of the hardest data capturing possible for the NFL.

During the season when teams play the following week they must report injuries and then they are listed on the NFL Official Injury Report prior to the game being played.  This mechanism, even with its overt flaws, is the launching point for our data.  With the regular season ending there are only eight teams that must report injuries the following week, effectively eliminating 3/4’s of the league.

This where you the reader can come in – and I am once again doing my yearly begging – if you note a concussion via a broadcast or twitter or the interwebs, please pass it along to us.  Although @nflconcussions does a tremendous job, he too probably welcomes the help.

So here is your homework for Week 17:

  • Watch games and enjoy games – root on your interests
  • If a concussion is noted send it via Twitter (@concussionblog) or email (theconcussionblog.comcast.net) in this format:
    • Player, Team, link/credit/notes
    • EX: Joe Schmoe, NYG, broadcast 3Q
    • EX: Joe Schmoe, KC, @examplehandlehere *link*
    • EX: @concussionblog RT: @examplehandlehere ……
  • I welcome any questions regarding the concussions during the games, but unless I catch it on RedZone or you have a video link I will be unable to answer to specifically.

Think of this as “OUR” project for the end of the NFL season, crowd sourcing style!

Thanks in advance.

Interesting Take On Tackling

26 Dec

I have been fortunate to be in some great email “groups” with information that surrounds the playing of sports.  Of course I have been attracted to concussion and those ancillary problems surrounding the brain injury.  It not only furthers, the some time outrageous, fodder but it also provides some critical thinking.

Matt Chaney has been doing a great job of circulating information – mainly about football – and from time to time I get some links that I feel would be best shared for “group thought process”.  A quick aside: Chaney’s blog has been removed from cyberspace due to some confounding issues on the user end, but he will dredge up his information in the coming weeks and re-launch his blog.  Back to the post…

Here is how Chaney describes this forthcoming link:

–super piece by a very interesting writer, an outstanding athlete-scribe, Doug Brown in Canada, former CFL D-lineman… he nails NFL rule-making as lousy lipstick on the pig… great points on the folly of ‘proper form’ or Heads Up or ‘safe tackling’ especially in the head-on avenues of football contact, or the ‘allies’ on-field, as Brown refers…. the tunnel effect of forward contact… though I don’t see any wall-in by other players as necessary for a head-on collision; it’s all about angles of intersecting opponents, and all you need are two principals incoming, ballcarrier and tackler, each with his mission…. boom!…. Doug Brown

I share his sentiments on the article, it brings to light some of the things we CANNOT get rid of in current football.  But does that make the game “unsafe”?  That is the penultimate question; further if it is a problem how can it even be solved?

Here is an excerpt from Doug Brown’s article that appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press;

When an offensive and defensive player meet in an alley, the options for tackling from an angle, or putting your head to the side of the ball carrier are absent. Instinct and self preservation in football tells a ball carrier to lower his head and shoulder pads when he anticipates a collision. Hitting a ball carrier above Continue reading

ABC’s ‘This Week': Football’s Concussion Crisis

24 Dec

First I want to lead this off by saying it is not a “crisis” just for the NFL, or football, this is an issue for everyone.  Once again this provides me the opportunity to say; the injury of concussion is not the problem/elephant in the room, rather it is the mismanagement of those injuries that have created this problems we are facing.

This video is from YouTube and I was tipped off by Dave Pear to its existence.

It is 11 minutes in length but there are some good sound bites in it.  If you can wade your way through the minutia you will see that the repeating issue is what I have stated above.  Basically doing nothing to fix the real problem.

2013 Week 15 NFL Concussion Report

20 Dec

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

There were three “firsts” this past week in the NFL Concussion Report, one of them had never occurred before in our data collection.  In the incident where Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber was demolished by Terence Garvin (fined $25k) our very first P/K was logged as a concussion.  I know, you wont see Huber’s name with “concussion” or “head” on the Official Injury Report from the NFL but this case is a classic instance of Fink’s Rule being put into effect (second “first”);

when there is a diagnosed fracture of the face and jaw (excluding the nasal bone) the forces absorbed during the injury will be beyond a threshold to elicit a concussive episode.  This would indicate to the clinician that the person should ALSO be evaluated for a concussion.

Alternate definition: when the terms “jaw injury”, “head contusion” , or “concussion-like symptoms” are present in an injury report one should be aware that forces were elicited to the head, and an assessment for a concussion should be indicated.

If you recall Huber spent the hours after the game getting his jaw wired shut and discovering he had a neck fracture.  Although there is no confirmation of a concussion from the league, team or player at this point, we will include in our data set, like we have done in previous seasons for other players.  It’s very difficult to imagine, while watching that train wreck, that Huber did not experience any brain trauma.

The third “first” of the week came just yesterday as we received news that Andrew Whitworth – another CIN Bengal – was concussed in practice.  Looking back on records for this year, this is the first concussion that occurred in practice this season.  It is important to note this, as previous seasons have had more concussions in practice.  It would make sense that the CBA rules of decreased contact days have really helped (2 – 2012, 5 – 2011).

Another notable number is: 200.  That is the total number of concussions we have logged since the opening of training camp.  In 2010 there was 172 concussions found from training camp through the playoffs, in 2011 there was 225 and in 2012 we found 237.  As you can see the overall number seems to be trending back to what we have seen the past few years.  Regular season numbers appear to be down by a factor of one week, again a very good reason to catalog the data and see the overall picture.

In hopes of not burying the lede here; for those interested in the comparison of weeks 1-3 and 13-15 – weeks in which every team was playing – and the effect of late season “wear and tear” on the brain here you go: 21 vs. 44.  Further, in the first nine weeks there was 67 concussions in the next six we have seen 79 concussions.  It seems pretty obvious to me that there is a cumulative effect here.

Quick reminder, Continue reading

2013 Week 14 NFL Concussion Report – UPDATED

13 Dec

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

UPDATED 16:57 CST – Nate Solder, OL, NE added

67 versus 65 66.

Once I explain those numbers some of you will be dumbfounded and even shocked.  If you have been here long enough, that comparison will make a lot of sense to you.

In the regular season weeks 1-9 there were a total of 67 concussions found.  Over a nine week span there was an average of 7.44 concussions found per week.  In weeks 10-14 – FIVE WEEKS – there have been 65 66 concussions found and average of 13.o 13.2 concussions found per week.  Almost a double of the numbers.

Before you go blaming the bye weeks on this discrepancy, make sure you note that there were three weeks in the beginning of the season when no teams had byes, and in the most recent five-week sample there has been only two.  Breaking down to just the week in which every team was playing the numbers are even more stark;

Weeks 1-3:  21 for an average of 7.0/week

Weeks 13-15 (WE ARE NOW IN WEEK 15, still awaiting those numbers): 30 31 for an average of 15.0 15.5/week an absolute doubling of concussions in the later part of the season.

Before everyone goes off and screams to the hills about a problem, there isn’t a problem.  This is normal for the NFL and normal according to published studies.  This is also a theory of the Sports Legacy Institute that seems to be playing out.  The idea of a ‘hit count’ for the brain.  A theoretical threshold the brain has before the ‘subconcussive hits’ become concussive episodes.  In simple terms the hits that were not producing a concussion for a player in weeks 1-3 are now producing the injury in weeks 13 and beyond.  The theory goes that the brain protection system (whatever that is) has weakened due to the repetitive nature of their profession and the brain is therein more vulnerable.

For further discussion I will now produce the Weeks 1-3 vs. Weeks 13-15 from 2010 to today (Key = total/per week vs. total/per week):

  • 2010: 21/7.0 vs. 30/10.0
  • 2011: 26/8.67 vs. 34/11.33
  • 2012: 30/10.0 vs. 35/11.67
  • 2013: 21/7.0 vs. 30+/???

By statistics alone one can see that concussions increase as the season wares on, this is not reason to panic, rather a point where we can try to figure something out.  This is the primary reason for this Continue reading

Hot And Heavy Monday

9 Dec

With Rob Gonkowski and Wes Welker injuries there is a ton a debate today on the interwebs about concussions and other injuries in the NFL.  I figured I would link up some information that would help with the background and even further thinking for the topic de jour.  It would also help if you read my editorial on Everyone Pumping Their Brakes.

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1st for posterity sake, here is the current NFL Concussion Protocol, found at the NFL Players Association website.  It is worth reviewing and I am sure the NFLPA is monitoring this closely.

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2nd is a link to Concussion Myths from Nationwide Children’s.  Although aimed at youth participants and parents, these myths are very prevalent all the way up to the professional ranks.  One would assume that it should not be predicated there, but alas it is.  Read this and pass it along to all that you know concerned about concussions.

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3rd is a link to some very interesting research about ACL injuries.  It seems the authors are thinking that cognitively impaired individuals (females in this research), may be predisposed to ACL injuries.  I just came across this but it makes logical sense to me.  Here is why; part of a concussive episode the brain can be effected in a way that impairs your spatial awareness and reaction time.  This research could be a waterfall for expected injuries and recovery as well.

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4th is a MMQ article on ACL injuries in the NFL.  There have been 50 thus far this year, an all-time high, but only half are due to contact.  Perhaps the above link may be more poignant after reading this and putting your thinking cap on…

2013 Week 13 NFL Concussion Report UPDATED

6 Dec

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

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John Jerry, OL, MIA added to the list after initial post, see corrections the stats, narrative will remain unchanged.

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There was a late addition to the Week 12 report as Tennessee tight end Craig Stevens appeared after last weeks post, bringing the 12 week regular season total to 102.  However, Week 13 has provided another weekly high in terms of concussions, for which Will Carroll was correct with his conjecture.  Although current listings only show 10 (new) concussions/head injuries we found 16 this week, including some peculiar omissions;

  • Darrelle Revis – as noted by @nflconcussions, is listed as chest/shoulder but he admitted to being unconscious on the play where he was hurt.  This is an automatic inclusion for concussion.
  • Mike Jenkins – although cleared to play, and he did against DAL, he was removed during the game with “concussion-like” symptoms.  Guess he may be “pregnant-like”, or perhaps they rushed him through?  Regardless NFL protocol states that a player cannot be cleared to play unless he has recovered from the previous injury.  This means that even if this were an exacerbation of the previous concussion, it will be listed as his second, in two weeks.

If you have been reading this weekly post, from the beginning, we have been warning you about the inevitable-exponential increase in concussions that occur late in the season.  We have documented this over the past three years and again are seeing this unfold (8, 8, 11, 11 in weeks 8-11).  Yes, it is partly because all teams are playing in during the week (no more byes) but, it is also due to the repetitive nature of being hit in the head.  If you recall weeks 1-3 all teams were playing as well and there were 21 total in that time frame.  This past week we have seen 76% of the concussions we saw in the first three weeks, combined.  If concussions were truly a random event that was not compounded by cumulative effects we should see “statistically” similar numbers.  In order for that to happen the NFL would have to report only 4-7 more concussions over the next two weeks, unlikely.

In fact the 16 found concussions this week are tied for second all time for most in a week; behind Week 12 of 2012 (19) – weeks 11 of 2012 and 14 of 2011 also had 16 found concussions.  With all of that said the pace for this years concussion numbers is below the basement of 2010 and WELL BELOW last years total.

Now on to the breakdown of concussions for Week 13 (indicates previous weeks numbers):  Continue reading

2013 Week 12 NFL Concussion Report

29 Nov

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

It is now the “witching hour” in the NFL season.  From Week 13 on there are no more byes and every team is playing in the week, giving us a truer picture of the concussions in the league.  As we have noted the past few weeks we have began to see an increase in weekly reports (we added one concussion to last weeks total, found after the fact); weeks 10 and 11 have produced 11 concussions each up from the previous and steady high of 8.  It looks innocent enough but that is a 37.5% increase.  This past week was not different as we found 12 concussions.

The overall number of concussion in the regular season now has eclipsed 100, but this has been the latest in the season it has occurred since we began tracking concussions in 2010.  Interestingly enough the number of actual injuries in the NFL has seen a dramatic rise which brings me back to what some league medical people relayed to me; “we have traded heads for knees.”  I was and am not so sure about that statement as a rule, but it makes logical sense.  From my point of view as an athletic trainer I feel I have seen more broken legs and ACL’s than ever before.  It is difficult to figure out why this is happening, but many theories are out there.

Going forward I anticipate the numbers to stay at or above double digits until Week 17 (when we all know teams don’t report concussions when they are not playing the following week).  With that, I don’t think we will reach the heights of previous seasons; I am concerned about that.  Also, I had a question via Twitter regarding how many of these are 2nd concussions for players; the answer is seven.

Now as we all sit here with Turkey Day hangover (from the food, people – OK maybe from the booze too) here is your Week 12 Concussion Report (indicates previous week numbers):

UPDATED: Craig Stevens found after original publish… Continue reading

2013 Week 11 NFL Concussion Report

22 Nov

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

It is official, every team in the League has now reported a regular season concussion.  This is the earliest in a season this has occurred, which is a good thing, in my opinion.  In the past three years there seemed to be at least one team that had not reported a concussion all the way until Week 15 or later.  There have been cases of a team not reporting a single concussion during the entire season.  Knowing what we know about concussions, with the information from players over the years this would seem almost impossible.  The injury of concussion is going to occur in football, why be scared of it.  Just deal with it properly when one is identified.  That brings me to my next rant of the week, Wes Welker.

As we watched on Sunday night, Welker took a shot as he was going to the ground and the ball came lose.  It was postulated that he lost consciousness (it will never be readily admitted to) and was subsequently evaluated on the field.  The Broncos say at that time he was evaluated for a neck injury, which is very plausible.  If the med staff didn’t see the mechanism or sudden results they can only go off what the player was telling them at that moment.  He returned the next series for one play and was finally removed for concussion.  The question is what transpired in that roughly seven minute time.  Possibly the NFL booth observer could have radioed down to take a look.  If that were the case then this communication needs to happen quicker.  Possibly Welker himself realized something was amiss and alerted sideline personnel.  If that were the case then delayed symptoms could be to blame, or finally he had some wherewithal in that moment, or the sideline personnel had the chance to interview other sideline people and get the whole picture.  There is a lot we don’t know and won’t know during that time frame.  The ultimate good thing was that he was removed and classified as a concussion.  In defense of the athletic trainers and docs, I have seen/been part of many cases where delayed reporting happens.  It sucks that I miss them, but it happens, it is the nature of the beast here.  Concussions are primarily subjective, in the case of Welker, it should have been spotted that he was incapacitated during the hit.  But even trained eyes can be blocked out by other players on the field.

As of yesterday it was reported that Continue reading

2013 Week 10 NFL Concussion Report

15 Nov

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

There has been a spike in concussions.  I repeat, there was a spike in the number of concussions this past week.  In all honesty people should not be surprised by this occurrence; what should be surprising to all of us is the fact that it took ten weeks for there to be double-digit concussions in a single week.

Although Week 10 produced 11 concussions it is not near a record for a week.  That distinction belongs to Week 12 of last season, where there was 19 concussions reported.  People should not be worried about the 11 concussions, as it was expected at this point in the season.  We have noticed that in the past three years over 60% of all concussions reported occur between Week 10 and Week 16 (we feel it would be greater if Week 17 reporting were mandatory).

Our simple hypothesis is: cumulative effects of traumatic head trauma (although mostly sub-concussive) predisposes the brain to a concussive event with less force required late in the season.  I cannot think of any other factor that would produce a significant increase in concussions in the back 1/3 of the season.  There is three weeks of byes with 4 weeks of full scheduling.  If you just compare W1-W7 (51 this year) to W10-W16 the numbers are even more spread out.

I would say expect more of the double digits than the single digits from here on out.  That being said, expecting one thing and the seeing the results are another.  Quick note; welcome to the real world Buffalo…  Let us move on the Week 10 numbers (indicate previous week);  Continue reading

2013 NFL Week 9 Concussion Report

8 Nov

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

The steady number of concussions continue, there were eight reports this week.  There is not really much to say at this point about the frequency or lack of frequency of concussions; the next important date/time frame is the Week 13 report.  That is when all teams will be off their bye’s and the point at which we have traditionally seen a spike in concussions.

However I do find some interesting notes about this and last week.  We noted we would be interested to see how Keith Tandy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was listed on the Official Injury Report.  Although there was a very credible tweet regarding his concussion, he was officially listed as “ankle”.   This one example highlights the issue we have discussed with the NFL OIR, it can be difficult to ascertain all concussions just by following that data set alone.  Secondly, we noted last week that the Miami Dolphins were the only team in the league without reporting a concussion from the beginning of training camp.  Well, that has changed as Nolan Carroll was found this week.  This means every team has now reported a concussion at some point.  There are, however, three teams yet to report a regular season concussion: Arizona, Buffalo and Chicago.

Let us present the Week 9 Report (indicate previous weeks numbers);  Continue reading

Report Hidden in Foreign Press

30 Oct

This report was brought to my attention by Matt Chaney, it details a study of former NFL’ers;

Unusual activity in the frontal lobe, observed in former National Football League (NFL) players as they carried out a cognitive test, matched records for heavy blows they had received to the head while on the field.

“The NFL alumni showed some of the most pronounced abnormalities in brain activity that I have ever seen,” said lead author Adam Hampshire, a neuroscientist at Imperial College London.

“(The) level of brain abnormality correlates strongly with the measure of head impacts of great enough severity to warrant being taken out of play.

“It is highly likely that damage caused by blows to the head accumulate towards an executive impairment in later life.”

NFL games have come under growing scrutiny for what critics say is a dangerous rate of concussions after hard blows to the head.

Some have drawn links between the on-field physical traumas and later neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, which in turn have been blamed for depression and suicide.

The new study does not find evidence of disease, but highlights brain areas that may have been affected by repeated, severe impacts. And it says standard tests do not pick up this subtle damage.

This has been reported on by several “non-sports” media outlets but I cannot find it on a link to a popular sports news source, if you have let us know in the comments…  This link is from ABC, Australia…

Here is a LINK to the full text, titled: Hypoconnectivity and Hyperfrontality in Retired American Football Players.

2013 Week 7 NFL Concussion Report

25 Oct

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

What if?  What if the trend we are seeing continues?  What does that mean?

Interesting and important questions; being mindful that this is one year out of four and we have yet to see a yearly trend of lower concussion numbers.  Simply it means that, perhaps, the NFL is on the right path.  The numbers are starting to become hard to ignore and we have what some like to call a “developing story.”

What I don’t want to see is those reporting on this to pontificate that the NFL has a handle on this issue, it will take a few more years of this type of reporting to proclaim that.  All of that being said it is very interesting to us here and worthy of a deeper look.  As we highlighted last week, it seems that policies are starting to take root.

The numbers are as follows for concussions/head injuries through Week 7 (indicates previous weeks values);

  • 6 concussions/head injuries found from Week 6 (7)
  • 45 regular season concussions noted (45)
  • 105 total concussions in 2013 (99)
  • 7.29 Concussions/week (7.50)
  • 123 Projected Concussions (127)
  • 0.48 Concussions/game (.50)
  • 8.41% InR (8.66)
  • 7.30% EInR (7.52)

Running Totals for Regular Season:

  • 25 Offensive (22) – 26 Defense (23)
  • Positionally Speaking
    • QB – 3 (1), RB – 6 (6), TE – 3 (3), WR – 8 (8), OL – 5 (4), DL – 5 (4), LB – 6 (6), DB – 15 (13)
    • Team Breakdown
      • JAX, NYJ, SD, WAS – 4
      • DET, OAK – 3
      • CAR, GB, HOU, KC, NE, PHI, PIT, SF, TEN – 2
      • ATL, BAL. CIN, CLE, DAL, DEN, IND, MIN, NYG, PHI, PIT, STL, TB – 1
      • ARI, BUF, CHI, MIA, NO, SEA – 0

Our definition of Incidence Rate (InR) is projected concussions/45 players taking the field per team per game, our definition of Epidemiological Incidence Rate (EInR) is projected concussions/53 man roster per team.

  • Comparing to past seasons the following has been found after Week 7: # (2012, 2011, 2010):
    • Regular Season Concussions – 51 (64, 66, 60)

Matt Chaney’s Take on Heads Up Football

24 Oct

The post below is from Matt Chaney’s Blog, re-posted (in part) here with his permission.  We are posting it here not as an endorsement, rather as an opposing view that is worth the read.  Our commentary on this article by Chaney will be below this post.  We encourage everyone to see the entire post on his blog.  You can view it by clicking on the hotlink, it is titled; ‘Heads Up Football': Truth, Tales and Legal Consequences.

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By Matt Chaney

Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Peter King posits bogus hitting technique as Safer Football in Sports Illustrated

—geezuz, the further we go in this latest football crisis, the worse many people become, willingly, on behalf of the sexy blood sport… and so Peter King of SI skips along, telling us bona fide prevention is possible for football’s irreversible head-ramming… a new post by the Hall of Fame football scribe portrays Heads Up ‘proper contact’ as legitimate; King purports this theoretical headless hitting can be instilled by coaches, enforced by referees, adopted by players… I’d like to see King demonstrate on a football field, suited-up himself for forward collisions governed by physics and bullet-head helmets; he’d ram, too, or get his ass kicked… look, folks, players cannot govern or stop ramming on a football field; rather, forces of the crazy game dictate human behavior… forget talk and trust your eyesight, especially naïve parents and kids, to understand Heads Up ‘technique’ is invalid, unreliable, a lienothing new: it’s mere rehash of musty old ‘head up’ form hitting, proven invalid since the 1960s… here’s King, introducing his discussion:

What’s been eye-opening to discover is the trickle-down effect from the NFL to youth football. As the pro league emphasizes safety more and more, so do high schools around America. … Coaches are concerned; 41 of 49 polled [by SI] said they have modified training techniques because of increased education about concussions and head trauma.

—sure, trickle-down effect will reform football danger, once again… solution for brain trauma in the collision game is just around the corner… like trickle-down ‘steroid awareness’ for football’s immense problem with anabolic substances…  King continues:

Several high school coaches emphasized the NFL teaching new tackling techniques, such as “Heads Up Football,” which teaches coaches to train kids to tackle with heads up—instead of using the helmet as a battering ram. Said Middlebury Union (Vt.) coach Dennis Smith: “In any drills we’re doing—whether it be fundamental drills at the beginning of practices, especially defensive practices—we’re always stressing head up. You have to be able to see what you’re tackling.” … Said Brandon (Miss.) coach Brad Peterson: “We always start the year, whether spring or fall, with walking through the proper techniques of tackling.” … The coach of E.O. Smith High in Storrs, Conn., Jody Minotti, said he knows he can’t prevent every concussion, but he trains his players to minimize the risks. “We do less contact throughout the week and we teach proper tackling,” said Minotti. “We preach in practice all of the time, ‘Bite the ball. Bite the ball.’ That means keep your head up and don’t ever lead with your helmet. We film tackling, we talk about tackling whenever we’re watching film.”

—huh, these coaches don’t address the facemask dilemma, the prime fault of football rules behind the charade of Heads Up, ‘proper contact,’ ‘head up technique,’ ‘anti-butting’ or whatever term… this toothless policy and language have been a football mandate since 1976, for high schools and the NCAA… the rules specifically ban Continue reading

2013 Week 6 NFL Concussion Report

18 Oct

The Concussion Blog Original, NFL Concussion Report, is a weekly compiling of the reported head injuries in the National Football League.  Concussions are added to the list each week from multiple sources to give you the reader a picture of what is happening on the field.  Each week we will bring you the information along with relevant statistics.  If we have missed a concussion or put one on here erroneously, let us know (we will also be using Fink’s Rule to classify a concussion/head injury).  It also should be noted that due to the league not disclosing actual injuries until Friday night there may be some added to next weeks numbers.

Did you know it was two years ago this week that the NFL put in the fine system for targeting and helmet contact?

The trend continues.  At the beginning of the season we were reserved on making presumptions of the low number of concussions we were seeing.  Although we still want to wait until the end of the season to solidify our thoughts it can be said that through six weeks the numbers are significantly down.  We are over 1/3 of the way into the NFL season and we have seen the total number of concussions reported/found to be – hopefully – a good sign.

There could be a myriad of reasons for this;

  • Positive
    • Players are grasping the lower target zone
    • Players are respecting the injury, therefore one another (case in point Larry Fitzgerald crack-back blocks last night)
    • Players are receiving better management of concussion
    • Less contact in practice is paying off
    • Better rule enforcement
  • Skeptical Thinking
    • Teams being less forthcoming
    • Players hiding the injury

As you can see the good outweighs the “bad” in this line of thinking which is a good start.  Again we want to reiterate that after Week 12 and before Week 17 there is usually a spike of concussions.  Two reasons for this: 1) all teams will have completed byes and more players on the field and 2) the possibility of cumulative effects leading to more concussions, a threshold if you will.

As it stands now there have been 45 reported/found regular season concussions which is about one weeks numbers lower than the previous three years average of 54.67, through six weeks.  If the numbers stay on this course we would be looking at approximately a 19 concussion drop or about 11%.  This would be a massive decline, considering that the numbers have risen for the past three years.

The above is a good thing, I for one am hoping for all the positives to be true.

Before we get to the numbers some QUICK NOTES: Continue reading

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