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New NFL Concussion Protocols May Be Cause of More Knee and Ankle Injuries


Sports Medicine Expert Available for Interviews

Although concussions tend to dominate the headlines when it comes to injuries in the National Football League (NFL), other ailments in the sport – including career-ending knee and ankle injuries – are increasing at a more rapid pace. In addition, a poll released today by USA Today Sports shows that NFL players are more concerned about sustaining an injury to the knee rather than acquiring a concussion.

According to Dr. Matthew Hansen, medical director of the Sports Medicine Program at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, NFL injuries to the knee and ankle are increasing and could be rising as a result of the recent concussion protocols that have been put in place by the NFL.

“The American College of Sports Medicine is reporting that last season there were 65 ACL injuries in the NFL, up from an average of 43 total ACL injuries in a season between 2002 and 2012,” says Dr. Hansen. “Many experts believe this increase is due to the recent protocols designed to protect the head and neck. Tackles are being directed at the lower body and that also takes its toll.”

The poll released by USA Today Sports shows that multiple NFL players said having their career ended by a knee injury outweighed long-term concussion and brain injury concerns. 

According to the survey, 293 players on 20 NFL teams were asked what body part they were most concerned about injuring in a game. Forty-six percent said knees and legs while 24 percent said head and neck and 26 percent of players said they were not worried about sustaining an injury. 

“This survey shows that players are more concerned about injuries to the knees than to the head in the short term but we also can’t forget about the long-term effects,” says Dr. Hansen. “The concussion protocols created by the NFL are still very important. All types of injuries sustained – from a concussion to a torn ACL – need to be taken seriously to prevent any long-term side effects.”

- Mercy Gilbert -

Dr. Hansen is available for interviews Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. Please call 602.406.3319 to schedule. 

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