The NFL released records on Thursday showing a 23.8 percent drop in concussions sustained during games and practices in 2018, according to ESPN. These figures come after a record high of 281 concussions in 2017.
Jeff Miller, executive vice president for health and safety initiatives with the NFL, said the league is pleased with the progress it’s making. "It was obviously an advance for the health and safety of our players to see fewer concussions. But it is simply one step in our longer effort to continue to drive down concussion rates,” he added.
The league’s three-part concussion reduction strategy includes intervention during early training camp practices, prohibition of underperforming helmet models and a series of rules changes.
Six out of seven targeted teams reduced camp concussions numbers in 2018, while one-third of NFL players changed helmet models in 2018 based on performance ratings. Miller said the results of the rules changes, which include a ban on lowering the helmet to initiate contact and a redesign of the kickoff, are not yet clear.
"We are excited and grateful for the changes that we've seen," said chief NFL medical officer Dr. Allen Sills. "We feel like this decrease is not a random variance but a reflection that the data-driven approach has made an impact. But this is not a one-year project. It's an ongoing commitment on our part to drive down injuries, not only concussions but also other parts of the body."
Sills also indicated that these tactics will escalate through 2019, with the lowest-performing tier of helmets being phased out of use entirely and training camp modifications being extended to all 32 teams. The league also hopes to replicate the three-part strategy to address other common injuries to the hamstring, knee, foot and ankle in 2019.