Fewer NFL Player Concussions in 2016: League

The number of concussions in the National Football League this season are down from the previous year, the league says.

There were 244 diagnosed concussions in preseason and regular season games in 2016, compared with 275 in 2015. There were 167 concussions in regular season games in 2016, which is 16 fewer than in 2015, the Associated Press reported.

The NFL said it has implemented improved concussion detection and examination protocols.

Players' willingness to report injuries is a major factor in the reduced number of concussions, according to Dr. Robert Heyer, president of the NFL Physicians Society and team internist for the Carolina Panthers.

"I have been a team physician 22 years, and in the past three years I think we've seen a cultural change regarding concussions," Heyer told the AP.

"As result of ongoing education, players are more likely to speak up if they believe they might have a concussion. I know what we are doing is making a difference, but we must continue to do more," he said.

An unaffiliated neurological consultant working NFL games says there has been a change in his interactions with players on the sidelines.

"When we started the program, there was a significant amount of resistance from the players in terms of just being evaluated," Dr. Mitchel Berger told the AP.

"But now, I would say uniformly this past season, none of the players ever resisted. They are much, much more aware of the whole concussion situation and want to actively be engaged in the interview process on the sideline as well as in the locker room. They really are much more aware of and interested in their safety," Berger said.

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