Toufic R. Jildeh
There was a high percentage of National Football League running backs and wide receivers who were able to return to play after concussion, according to recently published results. In addition, players were able to perform at a similar level in both the acute and long-term period following their concussion.
“While concussions have been associated with short- and long-term cognitive problems, the effect of concussion injuries on the return-to-play rates and performance of NFL players is not fully understood,” study co-author Toufic R. Jildeh, MD, told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “We found that 89% of NFL running backs and wide receivers were able to return to play the same season after a concussion injury, missing an average of 18.9 ± 7.6 days or 1.5±0.9 games. The remaining four players return the subsequent season.”
Researchers collected concussion data from the NFL for a period of 4 seasons for 38 running backs and wide receivers. Investigators collected age, experience, position, time to return to play, yearly total yards and touchdowns. The power rating was calculated for each player’s injury season for the 3 seasons prior and after their injury. A control group of running backs and wide receivers without a concussion injury were compared to players with a concussion injury. Acute and longitudinal changes in player performance were evaluated with players’ performance up to 3 seasons prior and after the injury season.
Results showed 34 players returned to competition in the same season. On average, players missed 1.5 games. Four players returned to competition in the subsequent season. Throughout the study, power ratings were similar between concussed players and players without a concussion. When concussed players returned within the same season, they did not experience a decline in individual performance. No significant difference in change of power rating was seen in patients with concussions in the acute or chronic setting compared with those without concussion. All players with concussion returned to competition in the index season or next season.
High percentage of National Football League running backs and wide receivers who were able to return to play after concussion.
“Despite multiple initiatives and rule changes to curtail concussion rates, studies have shown that the incidence of concussions in the National Football League have increased,” Jildeh said. “This is in stark comparison to a study reviewing concussions in the NFL from 1996 to 2007 by Pellman [and colleagues], which found that 92% of concussed players had 6 or fewer days away from play and 97% were absent for fewer than 10 days. The marked difference in return-to-play timing in our study is likely due to a change of data and knowledge and a more stringent return-to-play protocol in the NFL. It should be noted that there remains a high incidence of concussion in the NFL, and there must be continued work toward injury prevention and surveillance.”– by Monica Jaramillo
Disclosures: Jildeh reports educational support and hospitality payments from DePuy Synthes. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.