NFL: Diagnosed concussions down 25 percent in 2018 compared to previous year

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

After a 2017 “call to action” that included a concussion-reduction strategy, the NFL revealed on Thursday that there were fewer diagnosed concussions during the 2018 regular season and playoffs compared to 2017.

Twenty-five percent reduction

The NFL believes new rules, including on kickoffs, played a role in a 25 percent reduction in diagnosed concussions during the 2018 regular season. (AP)
The NFL believes new rules, including on kickoffs, played a role in a 25 percent reduction in diagnosed concussions during the 2018 regular season. (AP)
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According to numbers released at a meeting of the league’s Head, Neck and Spine committee at the NFL scouting combine, there were 217 diagnosed concussions during the regular season and just three in the postseason.

That’s 25 percent fewer in the regular season than the previous year, when the league reported 291 diagnosed concussions. There were 10 concussions in the 2017 playoffs.

‘Call to action’

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, declared a “call to action” at the 2017 combine; in concert with the NFL Players Association, the league created a three-part concussion reduction strategy: intervening in early training camp practices, prohibiting underperforming helmet models and instituting a series of rule changes guided by bio-mechanical research.

While the changes did not result in fewer concussions during training camp, Sills told reporters on Thursday that half of the league’s players began using better-performing helmets. Two rule changes: the controversial use-of-helmet and an alteration to kickoffs, played a role as well.

Sills said the numbers were “very positive,” but the league asked injury-data consultants to try to determine whether the drop in concussions can be attributed to the three-pronged reduction strategy or random variance.

While the league seems convinced that it was not random, Sills isn’t so sure.

“As physicians and scientists, we would all say if we had a disease and came up with a plan to attack it, a 25 percent reduction in one year is really a very positive start,” Sills said. “At the same time, we have to say that the work is clearly not done. There is no finish line in health and safety. We’re very pleased and proud of this start but there is more work to be done.”

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