When NFL players start wearing helmets, will it lead to a reduction in head injuries?
CARLOS BARRON/Associated Press NFL players will start wearing new helmets this season, but will that lead to an increase in head injury rates?
The answer, according to research from two of the leading experts in the field, is “no.”
The study, published in the Journal of Head Trauma, found that a helmet wearing policy in the NFL “has minimal effect” on rates of head injuries.
“There are a few factors that have a statistically significant effect on the risk of concussion in an NFL game,” said Dr. David Reiss, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School.
“The first is how many players wear the helmet.
We know that more helmets lead to higher concussions.
Second, there is a correlation between concussions and injury severity.”
In the study, the researchers used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a program that collects data from NFL teams, the National Football League Players Association and other players.
In the early stages of the study — which took four years to complete — the researchers analyzed data on the NFL’s injury data for the past 10 years.
They found that the percentage of concussions increased from 11 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2013, with no change from 2015 to 2018.
“This is a really good study, but it’s not the most comprehensive study,” said David DeBartolo, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University, who was not involved in the study.
“We’re talking about a very small number of people, and the data is not available for a lot of other teams, so we don’t have a lot more data to go on.
The big question is, does this actually lead to reductions in head trauma?”
In the meantime, the NFL has taken several steps to address head injuries in its league.
The league announced last week that it would implement a new rule to increase helmets for players.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has also suggested a more uniform rule that would limit helmets to one size.
And the league has increased the number of players required to wear helmets.
The new rule will increase the average number of helmets worn in a season from 10 to 15 per team.
The NFLPA said last week it would be “open to working with the NFL to explore the idea of increasing the number to 15 or more.”
But Reiss cautioned that the data doesn’t support that change.
“If you look at the data for a team, the helmets are worn more often,” Reiss said.
“And for a player, he’s more likely to be wearing a helmet when he plays.
It doesn’t necessarily lead to more head injuries.”
Reiss also pointed to research by the American College of Sports Medicine, which found that, based on a number of factors, a uniform rule for all NFL players would be harmful.
“As an orthopedist, I’m not convinced that uniformity is going to be helpful in reducing head injuries,” Reis said.
“It may be beneficial for a little bit, but if you go further, if you add the effects of concussive head impacts, it’s very hard to see how it’s going to have any significant effect.”
Follow Carlyn Bush on Twitter at @carlynbush.