How Common are Concussions in Football?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 March 2020
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Concussions in football can stem from a number of causes, including falls and injuries, often occurring after tackles as a result of sudden or sever impact. In some studies, concussions in football accounts for up to 53% of all concussions in high school athletics. Approximately 60% of players in professional football have experienced a concussion over the course of a career, and 26% report more than three concussions over their career.

When a football player experiences a sudden jarring of the head, the brain may suffer an injury referred to as a concussion. A concussion is considered a type of brain injury. Concussions can lead to a decrease in brain function and a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms experienced by those with a concussion, including football players, range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms can include confusion, headache, and dizziness. More severe symptoms can include impaired balance, seizure, and loss of consciousness.

In a sampling of high school students, a study conducted by the Union Memorial Hospital sports medicine research center in Baltimore found that football players accounted for 53% of all concussions experienced by the athletes in the study. In addition, the study found that the rate of incidence of concussions in football at the high school level increased 8% annually from 1997 to 2008. The study included concussions in football suffered during both practices and games.


College football athletes experience concussions at a rate of 10.5 per 1,000 athletic practices and competitions, according to a study done by the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program. In addition, the study found that college football athletes were 7 times more likely to experience concussions in football competitions as opposed to practices. The increased size and speed of players, as well as level of competitiveness found in college sports result in more severe concussions.

In professional football, the numbers are even higher. Approximately 60% of the former players in a study done by the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at North Carolina University had experienced a concussion during their playing career. The study also found that professional football players who had experienced concussions also experienced memory, concentration, and neurological related issues at a higher rate than those who did not experience a concussion.

Other statistics demonstrate a continued prevalence of problems beyond the end of an athlete’s career. Depression occurred at three times the rate in those who experienced three or more concussions in a career. Former professional football players also experienced Alzheimer’s disease 19 times more frequently than those who didn’t play football or experience a concussion.


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Post 2

My son plays varsity football for his high school, and he already shows some signs of permanent brain damage after suffering a few serious concussions during football games and practices. He has trouble focusing on reading material, and his short-term memory is not very good. I don't know how his coach missed all those signs of a concussion, but my son said he's pretty rough on the team in general and hates to hear players complain about "minor aches and pains", like headaches or blurred vision.

I don't think people who just watch football on television realize how hard some of these players get hit. I have asked my son to reconsider playing football in college, because I don't want to see him get hurt even more by future concussions. He really wants to be a quarterback, and that position is one of the worst for football concussions.

Post 1

I've heard they are making great improvements with concussion-reducing football helmets these days, but the players are still getting brain damage. I watched a college game the other day where the quarterback took a serious helmet-to-helmet on his way down to the ground, and he had to be picked up by two teammates. The coach apparently didn't know the quarterback was out of it, and kept him in for the next play. He had all the signs of a concussion, and they should have sent him to the sidelines.

I've heard retired football players complain about their mental health issues during interviews, and it seems like those problems can be traced straight back to concussion they suffered in their football careers.

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