The NFL may be embroiled in brain injury litigation and legally required mediation, but the effects of those suits wouldn’t be in effect until the season following this upcoming one at the very earliest. If mediation doesn’t come to a complete solution and the issue returns to court, it could take much longer. What matters more to players worried about their brains are the rule changes and protective gear that are being put on the field right now.
To help assess how those changes and protective improvements are performing, analysts examined just how many players were suffering traumatic brain injuries and how they were affecting players. The findings could be interpreted in different ways, but for the most part the news that players are spending more time on the sidelines due to concussions is a sign of better management of the issue, not increasing injuries.
Compared to past years, that is a significant increase of nearly 10 days per brain injury since 2009. But, according to USA Today, the total number of concussions diagnosed has remained fairly static, causing health and league professionals to be optimistic about the data.
NFL spokesman said the research is a good sign for the NFL’s handling of brain injury. “It is a reflection of how the injury is being treated more cautiously based on revised protocols and the current judgement of our medical staffs,” he said.
Over the past few years, the NFL has revised its concussion protocol to include mandatory baseline testing for all players, as well as strict guidelines for removing players who may have suffered brain injuries during practice or competition.
While the number of brain injuries from the start of the 2012 training period to the end of the season actually decreased from the previous two years, the number of severe injuries diagnosed has continued to climb, a severe injury being defined by this study as an injury requiring a player to miss two games or undergo surgery.