Cold Weather Causes More NFL Concussions

Colder climates don’t typically bode well for many health concerns.

Colder climates don’t typically bode well for many health concerns.

Particularly for NFL players, playing games in the wintry chill significantly increases the risk of concussions two-fold, new research reported.

The study, published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, also found that ankle injuries are more common on colder game days.

Researchers analyzed weekly injury report data from 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 for all 32 teams during regular season.

What did the results indicate?

Experts discovered the risk for concussions was higher when they played in 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, compared to games played in temperatures averaging 70 degrees.

“At colder temperatures, materials and equipment in the playing environment have a lower elastic potential and that may increase the impact forces that are transmitted during the game and increase forces to the head,” remarked David Lawrence, MD, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in a news release.

Interestingly, officials surmised players could be under-reporting concussions during warmer temperatures, often attributing symptoms to heat exhaustion or dehydration.

According to healthcare professionals, during colder games, football players interact more closely with athletic staff on the sideline to access coats, hand warmers, and other winter necessities, thereby inadvertently making concussion symptoms easily recognizable.

Additionally, the researchers noted that apart from concussions, the four other common football-associated injuries were to the knee, ankle, hamstring, and shoulder.

Player safety — especially regarding concussions – has been a growing concern for researchers. Just this month, NFL official, Jeff Miller, acknowledged the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)-football link.

According to Lawrence, “There has been a lot of discussion recently about the significant risk of injury in the NFL and general player safety, particularly regarding concussions. The first step in improving player safety and lowering that risk is to identify the factors affecting injury rates. Once we can answer those questions, we can begin to modify player exposure.”