The co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee, Hunt Batjer, reported yesterday in Chicago that concussions dropped 50 percent on kickoffs as compared to previous years. Speaking at a forum about NFL health and safety Batjer confirmed what we had said with our observational data;
“We just got the data recently, it looks to me like a decreased number of runbacks played a role. It did not affect a lot of the other injuries paradoxically.”
In this article by Brad Biggs there is also a good sub-story about Hunter Hillenmeyer and his dealings with the team and NFL for having to retire due to concussions. What is even more subtle, yet telling is that George McCaskey, Chicago Bears Chairman has had family experiences with concussions;
“It was a nerve-wracking experience,” McCaskey said. “Our son was a different person. Generally, he is a very happy-go-lucky kid. He was very irritable, easily angered. The most frustrating thing is he knew something wasn’t right.”
The news of lower concussion on kick offs should be no surprise as just limiting the exposure decreases the incidence of this injury. This example shows why limiting contact during practices is both practical and needed to lower the brain injuries suffered in this sport and others.