Concussions and Sports: An Update

NFL concussions, NFL concussions by year

“I’ve talked to several doctors, asking them about symptoms, and one of them is not being able to finish a sentence,’’ retired quarterback Brett Favre said, “or not remembering a word — a specific word.”

Favre is perhaps the most famous athlete to step forward recently and talk about his career and the toll it’s taken on his body.  Favre, now 44, was sacked 525 times during his NFL career, not including college and high school play.

When asked back in 2009 how many times he played a game with a concussion (that today would have resulted in him sitting out), Favre answered “a lot.”

Is this season safer?

Statistics available through week 10 show 80 reported concussions, for the first time, the NFL is reporting four players who previously had head injuries this season.  That number is behind 2011 and 2012 numbers, however, making us wonder if the League’s policies are having a positive effect or if under-reporting is happening.

NCAA facing lawsuits as well

There have been some big lawsuits filed against the NFL for failing to act sooner to protect players.  The NCAA is currently facing five lawsuits from players, the latest filed last week, claiming injuries and lack of protection for players at the college level.

Currently the NCAA does zero baseline testing although a 2010 law requires schools to have a concussion management plan in place which could include baseline assessments at the start of each season.

It’s not just football

Concussions and sports injuries are a serious concern, not just in the NFL but in any sport which involves bodily contact.  It’s estimated that 3.8 million concussions per year happen in competitive sports and recreational activities; however, as many as 50% go unreported.  The sports with the highest incidence of concussions are football, hockey, rugby, soccer and basketball.

There is a lot at stake.  Our children look up to pro-athletes and try to emulate them.  If they show a “tough it out” attitude will that be picking up on our junior playing fields?  How can parents choose sports that are appropriate for their children?  What role do sporting goods manufacturers, coaches and parents play for keeping our kids safe?

There is a lot to discuss, let us know your opinions below and if you’re an M.D. or D.O., please join us inside Sermo.  Sermo physicians have been tracking concussion injuries this season along with PBS and their Concussion Watch.  We’ll be announcing results next month.

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