NFL Concussion Rate Increased in 2022


A football helmet is set out on the field | Image by Lucas Andrade/Pexels

The NFL released data Friday that revealed 149 concussions during the 2022 NFL season — up 18% from the 126 suffered in 2021 and 14% above the average from 2018 through 2020.

Medical spotters and officials called twice as many injury timeouts this season to evaluate players and performed an average of 1.6 concussion evaluations per game.

For years, head injuries have dominated conversations regarding the NFL’s health and safety protocols. The league has constantly tried adjusting its rules, procedures, and playing style to decrease some alarming numbers.

In the preseason, certain position groups were required to wear Guardian Caps, a new technology designed to decrease impact and alleviate head injuries, on their helmets during practice. The league reported a 52% decrease in head injuries from preseason practices.

The overall number of concussions between the preseason and the regular season remained relatively standard compared to recent years. However, the number of concussions suffered during the regular season was above the average.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered multiple concussions this season that derailed an otherwise great season for him and brought the issue further into the public spotlight.

On September 25 against the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa could be seen struggling to get up and stumbling back to the ground as he attempted to stand. He briefly left the game but returned to play and started the team’s next game against the Cincinnati Bengals just four days later.

During the Cincinnati game, the quarterback had to be helped off the field and taken to the hospital after another blow to the head.

Tagovailoa missed three games with the injury and returned at the end of October against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers, Tagovailoa suffered yet another concussion, which kept him out of the lineup for the rest of the season. He did not exhibit any symptoms until the next day but could not remember the plays that had happened during the game.

He just cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol this week, 38 days after the incident.

NFL Vice President Jeff Miller told ESPN that a new helmet design, specifically for protecting quarterbacks against head injuries, is in the works.

The NFL also released other injury data Friday.

General injuries across the league are down 5.6%, and lower body injuries decreased by 14%, although injury rates on punts and kickoffs remain high.

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