Official Study of NFL Concussions

It appears that there is an official study on concussions and injuries in the NFL.  This data came from the internal injury surveillance  of the league and is uncertain who sponsored it, however, this is our first chance to see “accurate” numbers relating to concussions in the league.  Edgeworth Economics did the study and was told that there were 266 concussions in 2011 (we found 217) and 270 concussions in 2010 (182) showing a slight overall decline;

The number of reported concussions had been on the rise since 2006.

“As an economist and a statistician, I can’t tell you whether that’s due to increased recognition of concussions versus an increased incidence of them,” David said. “It’s probably both. But nonetheless, you see a pretty significant (trend) over the last five years, roughly. However, in 2011, we saw a decrease — a slight decrease in the total number of concussions, the first time that’s happened in several years. And that is entirely due to a reduced number of concussions during kickoffs.”

The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of the kickoff rule change.  As we noted here there was a decline in concussions on the kick off last year – although we could only discover single digits – where as the study had much more information;

There were 266 overall concussions reported in 2011, a decrease from the 270 reported in 2010. The number of concussions that occurred on kickoffs dropped from 35 in 2010 to 20 last season.

Yes, the kickoff rule change helped and looks like it helped the overall number as well.  We have opined here that 2011 could be the “high water” mark for concussions in the NFL.  We also have been extremely critical of the NFL for “hiding” their numbers, it appears that is changing.  It will also be very interesting to see if the reduced contact days also drives that number down.

It is good to see the league “opening the books” on the concussion injury, although it is curious it comes at a time when there is a plateau or decline.  I guess it is better late than never.  With these changes and decline we should see a trickle down effect as college and high school will be more accepting of “game” changes.