With the issues of head injury and concussion in the spotlight recently, the National Football League has made amendments to its concussion policies and these changes have been implemented this season. By the leagues own estimation, roughly 175 concussions occur during the course of play each season. With 256 regular season games each year, that’s one almost every other game!
The NFL and the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee has worked in the past to reduce the number of head injuries due to on-the-field activity with safer helmets, penalties, and various rule changes regarding what the league refers to as “defenseless players”. At the end of the 2010-2011 season, the NFL announced new procedures for the 2011-2012 season for players sustaining head or neck trauma during the course of play. This new effort is designed to mitigate potential damage and quickly begin treatment once a head injury has been sustained. Now, each team’s training staff can administer a combination memory and symptom tests, such as balance and cognitive function, as well as a neurological examination, to assess a player’s level of injury and fitness for play.
Head injuries, such as concussions, are a result of the brain being jostled in the skull and may be caused by a blow to the head, neck, or spine. Symptoms of head injuries can range from mild headaches to changes in coordination, thinking ability, reflexes, and vision. Further damage can occur if there is bleeding in the brain. Both MedlinePlus and the Model Brain Injury Systems have excellent articles explaining brain injury, its treatment, and rehabilitation options.