Concussions jump 18% but overall injuries down, says NFL

Feb 3 (Reuters) - National Football League concussions jumped 18% in the 2022 regular season after three years of decline, it said on Friday.

According to season-ending data compiled by the NFL, there were a total of 149 concussions suffered over 271 regular season games, representing a significant increase over 2021.

NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said in a conference call that the league would look into what factors were responsible for the rise but believed some of it can be traced to more conservative protocols and more player evaluations.

Medical teams performed an average of 1.6 evaluations per game last season, while medical timeouts called by spotters and officials nearly doubled.

"There are a lot of factors we are looking into as to what can be driving that," said Sills.

"We are doing more evaluations than ever and we did change the protocol, becoming more conservative, and we had more medical timeouts and continue to emphasis player self report."

While concussions were up the number of overall injuries was down 5.6%.

The NFL was applauded for its emergency action plan and the swift reaction of on-field first responders who may have saved the life of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin last month.

Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals, suffering a cardiac arrest that required his heart to be restarted.

The league, however, came under intense scrutiny and criticism for its response to the concussion suffered by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in September.

In a game against Buffalo, Tagovailoa was slammed into the turf and appeared unsteady as he tried to get back on his feet.

Despite signs of a concussion, the Miami quarterback was allowed to return to the game after passing the league mandated protocol.

In the Dolphins next game against the Bengals, Tagovailoa had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after being sacked.

He appeared to seize up immediately after the hit and remained on the field for several minutes before being taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

The two incidents prompted the NFL and players union to adopt enhanced concussion protocols.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Ken Ferris

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