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Five-Year Trends in Reported National Football League Injuries

Bedard, Gillian MSc*; Lawrence, David Wyndham MD*,†

doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000741
Original Research: PDF Only

Objective: To determine the incidence of all-cause injury and concussion in the National Football League (NFL) over a 5-season time span (2012-2016).

Design: Prospective descriptive epidemiological study.

Setting: National Football League Injury Report data from 2012 to 2016.

Participants: National Football League players.

Interventions: None (descriptive study).

Main Outcome Measures: Injury report data were collected prospectively for all NFL injuries from 5 seasons (2012-2016). The incidences of reported concussions, knee injuries, and all-cause injury were compared across the 5 seasons using the Kruskal–Wallis rank-sum test.

Results: A total of 10 927 injuries were identified across the 5 seasons, including 752 (6.9%) concussions. The top 3 most injured areas included the knee (17.2%), ankle (13.6%), and shoulder (8.8%). Defensive backs consistently had the highest number of all-cause injuries per season. When comparing across years, there was a significant decrease in all-cause injury in 2016 compared with 2015, a significant decrease in knee injuries in 2016 compared with 2015, and a significant increase in concussion in 2015 compared with 2014 (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Reported all-cause injury incidence and knee injury incidence is currently on the decline. However, reported concussion incidence has recently increased, perhaps due to increased awareness and rule changes implemented to aid in the detection and treatment of concussion. Strategies to reduce injury and improve injury awareness should continue to be explored.

*Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON;

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network (UHN), Toronto, ON.

Corresponding Author: David Lawrence, MD, David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, 100 Devonshire Place, 4th floor, Toronto, ON M5S 2C9 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received October 17, 2017

Accepted February 09, 2019

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