NFL Begins to Shift Focus to Neck Training to Help Protect Against Concussions

Football Players on Field

Anyone who follows sports and/or the world of medical science has most likely seen news in recent months regarding the thousands of former National Football League players who are suing the NFL because they suffered traumatic brain injuries. They generally allege that they had to endure repeated trauma to their heads while they were playing and that the NFL did not properly warn the players of the risks involved with these repeated collisions. To date, approximately 2,500 players have joined various lawsuits against the league that are still active.

The NFL has responded as quickly and as publicly as possible. The league has come out strongly against blows to the head that occur during games to the point where players who are guilty of such conduct can face heavy fines and suspensions as a result. The NFL has also donated tens of millions of dollars to traumatic brain injury research causes and they have joined forces with the United States military in order to continue with the study of concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries. Cynics will believe that this is all being done because of the lawsuits, but regardless of the motivation any or all of these steps could make a difference.

In addition to all of these steps, individual NFL teams and trainers are beginning to take a more active approach to traumatic brain injury prevention. One of the emerging training techniques across the NFL involves work that's done on the players' necks in order to provide them with a stronger foundation of support for the head.

The theory is that if the head is protected by a stronger neck, it will not snap back and forth as violently when collisions occur. If the head doesn't move as violently, the chance that the brain will rattle around inside the skull is minimized to an extent. While there is not yet any league-wide mandate for neck training, several teams have already been focusing on this type of preventative strength-building in order to protect the players.

The third annual Football Strength Clinic was held last week in Cincinnati, and several NFL trainers and strength and conditioning coaches attended to compare notes and to share presentations regarding all types of different techniques. The focus on the neck was noticeable, and many attendees expressed dismay at the number of players who enter the league who have never done any type of strength training on their necks. The feeling was that with the violence that is generated on just about every play in the NFL, these players who have never strengthened their necks are extremely vulnerable to concussions and perhaps to long-term brain damage.

We have been representing clients as traumatic brain injury lawyers for decades, and we have seen too many times the harm that can be done when repeated head trauma occurs. Anything that is being done to reduce that amount of harm should be encouraged, and that's what the team at the Scarlett Law Group is going to continue to do. We hope that we someday reach a point where traumatic brain injuries are no longer a major concern in any sport.