NFL players and coaches have had plenty of time to talk about the dangers of head trauma in the past, but the league has yet to take the issue seriously.
The NFL’s concussion protocol was updated in 2018 to include new language, but that hasn’t been enough to change the public’s opinion on concussions.
A new study published in the Journal of Athletic Training and Conditioning Medicine is a step in the right direction, though, by comparing how well players are responding to a simulated concussion with how they respond to a full-body head injury.
It’s the first study to examine how well a simulated head injury will affect athletes after being hit with a simulated concussive blow.
In a series of tests, 10 male NFL players were hit with simulated concussions at various times during the game and were then asked to perform different tasks.
Some were given a full head hit and some were hit while their heads were in a simulated position.
A full head injury, when it hits, is a direct result of head impacts on the skull.
However, simulated concussed players perform well in some of the tests, including performing well on the vertical jump, sprinting and jumping.
“This study is really telling us how we should respond to the impacts we might experience in the NFL, and we’re really surprised by how well they perform,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a co-author of the study and a sports medicine specialist at Boston University School of Medicine.
The researchers also compared how well simulated concussion impacts affected players in different body types.
They found that players with large, blunt head impacts performed best on the jumps, while players with smaller, blunt impacts performed better on sprinting.
The findings are important because it means the NFL could potentially consider making changes to how head impacts are handled in the future.
“We’re a lot closer to being able to make changes to the protocol than we were in the early years,” Zimbalsy said.
For instance, it could make sense to make the simulation more realistic, so it takes a hit to the head, which can cause more severe effects.
“If there are things that can be done in the game, they would make sense for us to do so,” Zimmer said.
However it goes, the researchers found that simulated concurrency improved the performance of the players when they returned to the field.
That could mean players who are more prone to concussions will be more effective at tackling and avoiding them.
They also found that the simulated concusions increased the performance by reducing the number of concussions experienced, which could help athletes recover quicker after a concussion.
They’re not saying players shouldn’t get concussions, but they want to make sure they’re getting a good outcome.
The study will be presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual conference in Philadelphia in April.