Players who sustain a concussion return to play after 19 days, study shows

With NFL training camps under way for the 2019 season, a Henry Ford Hospital study on concussions found that the time players are sidelined has nearly doubled in the past 20 years.

Sports medicine researchers at Henry Ford evaluated data from the 2012-2015 seasons and found that players who sustained a concussion returned to play on average 19 days later. That's the equivalent of missing about 1 ½ games.

When players returned to play, however, researchers found no significant decline in performance up to three years after injury compared to those who didn't sustain a concussion. The study specifically evaluated data involving NFL running backs and wide receivers.

The study is published online in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

One of the earliest studies on concussion data came from the NFL's mild traumatic brain injury committee and was published in the journal Neurosurgery in January 2004. Based on data collected between 1996 and 2001, researchers found that NFL players were sidelined for six or fewer days after a concussion.

Toufic Jildeh, M.D., a fourth-year Henry Ford sports medicine resident and the study's lead author, acknowledged the return to play timing is due to today's more stringent concussion protocol used by the NFL.

The high incidence of concussion in football and other contact sports continues to be a major concern. While recent research has shown potential links between traumatic brain injuries and long-term neurological consequences, we sought to evaluate the potential impact of concussion immediately after a concussion."

Toufic Jildeh, M.D., fourth-year Henry Ford sports medicine resident

The Henry Ford study adds to the growing body of research on concussions in sports. Dr. Jildeh says more research is needed to better understand the immediate effects of concussion.

For their retrospective study, Dr. Jildeh and researchers evaluated data on 38 running backs and wide receivers collected from publicly available injury reports, media reports, player profiles and game summaries. The data was compared to 139 running backs and wide receivers who didn't sustain a concussion in the study period.

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