New Ivy League Rule Leads to Reduced Football Concussions

Doctor checking out football player

Football players are far more likely than other groups (and even other athletes) to sustain serious concussion injuries, in part because of the physically-demanding nature of the sport. However, as one recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests, there may now be an easy way for football programs to reduce the concussion risks for players.

Because players routinely collide with one another while running at full speed during kickoff, this part of the game is often the most dangerous – in fact, up to a quarter of all concussions happen during kickoffs, even though these account for only 6% of all plays. By adopting a league-wide policy that involved moving up the yard line for kickoffs from 35 to 40 and the touchback yard line from 20 to 25, the Ivy League found that they were able to greatly reduce the number of concussions suffered by players.  

Changing the Rules: Keeping Player Safety in Mind

According to the study, which was authored by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and the Ivy League, the player concussion rate was reduced from 11 injuries per 1000 kickoffs in 2013 to only 2 per 1000 by the end of 2017. Although deceptively simple, this kickoff rule change also resulted in more touchbacks and fewer kickoff returns, as well as a sharp reduction in head injuries on the field.

Even as players in the Ivy League saw dramatic improvements in 2017, however, data from the National Football League told a very different story. According to their projections, there was a sustained 13.5% increase in concussions between 2016 and 2017 – the latest in a series of increases over the last few years. Given the promising results of the kickoff rule for the Ivy League, it’s possible that a similar structural change could make a major difference on the safety of NFL players.

Our firm partner and skilled personal injury lawyer Anders Blewett was a place kicker on the football team at Harvard University. After hearing about the study, Attorney Blewett applauded the change in policy: “It is no secret that successive concussions pose a major public health and safety risk. With each concussion, a person faces an increased likelihood of protracted symptoms and potential permanent complications. Athletic organizations should use all tools at their disposal to reduce incidents of concussions in the sport of football. Hopefully other football conferences and organizations around the country will take note and follow the lead of the Ivy League.”

The True Costs of Concussion

Unfortunately, concussions and brain injuries are not only a problem for football players. Considered to be a mild form of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), concussions can lead to lifetime effects and persistent problems for victims. According the CDC, falls and car accidents are the two primary leading causes of TBI hospitalization, taking up approximately 72% of all such visits to the ER. That means that anyone who has been involved in a high-speed car accident or a major falling accident may be at serious risk of developing post-concussive syndrome and other complications. Worse still, each subsequent traumatic brain injury can compound a person’s symptoms and recovery time.

Brain injuries also manifest in numerous ways – including through psychological and neurological issues – that victims do not fully understand or attribute to the trauma they have experienced. This is why doctors and neurological experts often refer to TBI victims as “the miserable minority.” Given this lack of awareness about TBI, it is likely that more survivors of mild traumatic brain injuries experience persistent problems than is documented in medical literature.

Whether you suffered a concussion due to a direct blow during a football game, a car accident, or a fight with a dangerous individual, you may be entitled to seek damages to cover your medical costs and lifetime needs. At Hoyt & Blewett PLLC, our experienced team has handled a multitude of concussion and brain injury cases, and we are prepared to put our experience into action to maximize your recovery.

For more information about our legal services in Montana, contact us at (406) 233-1302 today.

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