NFL Data Shows Injuries Are Down 5.6 Percent; Diagnosed Concussions Up 18 Percent

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 3, 2023

Football: Oakland Raiders Derek Carr (4) in blue medical examination tent for concussion protocol during game vs Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore, MD 11/25/2018
CREDIT: Simon Bruty (Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X162345 TK1 )
Set Number: X162345 TK1

The NFL announced on Friday that diagnosed concussions were up 18 percent in the 2022 season, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

However, overall injuries across the regular season and preseason decreased by 5.6 percent.

Maske noted that there was some uncertainty over whether the increase in concussions this season was an indication of more head injuries occurring, or simply more head injuries being properly detected:

MarkMaske @MarkMaske

The increase in NFL concussions this season was attributable in part to head injuries suffered by quarterbacks and those suffered by players on special-teams plays, league officials said.

The number of concussions increased from 126 in 2021 to 149 this past season.

The league's concussion protocol was a source of major controversy yet again this season, after two separate incidents involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

In the first, Tagovailoa hit his head on the ground after being hit in a Week 3 matchup with the Buffalo Bills and was seen stumbling back to the huddle, but after being evaluated for a concussion at halftime was cleared to return to the game.

But in Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals he was sacked, hit his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious. He missed the next two games, and the independent neurotrauma consultant who cleared him to return against the Bills was fired.

A concussion also ended Tagovailoa's season. Following a Week 16 loss, he exhibited concussion-like symptoms and was placed in the league's concussion protocols. He didn't clear those protocols until Feb. 1.

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Friday that Tagovailoa's situation put into motion some adjustments to the league's protocols that "broadened and strengthened" the definition of a concussion.

"We continue to become more cautious and conservative in our evaluation and diagnosis of concussions," he added. "That's not just an opinion. That's backed up by the data."