NFL Concussions Reach New Watermark

The National Football League released alarming concussion data


The National Football League (NFL) released a new injury report Friday, and had some interesting figures to note.

According to the NFL, the number of concussions diagnosed in 2015 reached 271 -- a 32 percent increase from last season (206 concussions). The NFL also reported 229 concussions in 2013, and 261 in 2012.

Furthermore, the NFL kept track of the impact source that contributed to the concussions. The highest total of impacts was 92 incidents which involved hitting another helmet -- a 58 percent increase from 2014 (in which 58 incidents of this nature occurred). The playing surface was second in number of impacts with 29, followed by shoulder contact with 23.

The league's data illustrated that concussion totals increased this season after three straight seasons in which the number had dropped, as the league implemented new rules in an effort to curtail the number of concussions. The league began penalizing helmet-to-helmet hits and fining atrocious hits to the head to mitigate the effects of concussions. Additionally, the NFL expanded their education and awareness programs on concussions, as well as placed impartial spotters in the stands to remove concussed players from the field of play.

Recent studies have demonstrated a link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. CTE can result in memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and even dementia.

Concussions can result in a variety of symptoms, such as brief loss of consciousness, headache, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, vision changes, light/sound sensitivity, loss of balance, mood/personality changes, poor concentration or mental slowness, lethargy and changes in sleep patterns, according to Mark Barisa, a board-certified neuropsychologist. "When a concussion is suspected, it is recommended that the athlete be seen by a healthcare provider with specific training and experience with traumatic brain injury to help determine the significance of the injury and necessary next steps in terms of further evaluation and management," Barisa said.

The NFL has only been tracking concussion data since the 2012 season, meaning we have many years to go until we can fully determine the effects that the NFL's new player safety rules have on the number of concussions league-wide.