Jul 13, 2018
Preseason Report

Full-squad drills may be related to higher risk of concussion for football players in preseason training, says the NFL. Although the league hasn’t banned 11-on-11 training camp drills, it has warned teams that these were related to most of the preseason concussions last year.

According to an article from ESPN, each of the teams was recently given a customized report from the NFL that offers insight into their preseason concussions during camps. The report also includes a comparison with other teams.

“It’s not a matter of having five or six recidivistic clubs that we have to discipline into line,” Allen Sills, MD, Professor of Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt University and Chief Medical Officer for the NFL, said. “This is a league-wide issue where everyone has to understand it’s on all of us to work on. It might sound trite to say, but any concussion we save is important to us. We want to put the awareness out there – and make sure we’re making it as safe as we can.”

Part of the concern is that the percentage of preseason concussions in the NFL went from 26 in 2016 to 45 in 2017, a 75 percent increase. The aim of the data report is to address the issue in a way that had been used for a similar concern in 2014.

“We didn’t have a level and specificity of data then,” Jeff Miller, Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives at the NFL, said, “but we went through a process led by our football operations to inform teams and talk to them and say, ‘Hey, we noticed this data.’ We brought it to their attention, and there was an effort by many of them to address the question. And we saw a drop the following year. Raising the consciousness level of that issue was definitely worthwhile. I don’t want to take full credit for that decrease, but I think it informed what clubs did.”

In last year’s preseason, most of the concussions happened early on — in the beginning weeks. Although it would seem like a matter of conditioning, experts say that’s not a likely explanation.

“We don’t think about the brain as a hamstring, where you have to get it loose and flexible,” Dr. Sills said. “I don’t think we feel that. We think it’s exposure: What behavior are you doing and how much are you doing of it?”

Image by C Watts.

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