Player Performance After Returning From a Concussion in the National Football League: A Pilot Study


This study aimed to determine if gameplay performance in the National Football League (NFL) is adversely affected after returning to play from a sport-related concussion (SRC). Players who sustained a SRC between the 2007–2008 and 2013–2014 seasons were identified. Concussed players were matched to nonconcussed control players in a 2:1 (control–case) fashion by position, season, experience, age, body mass index, and time missed. Gameplay statistics were recorded for the three games before and after returning from SRC. When compared with the control group, the majority of NFL players did not demonstrate any performance-based deficits on returning to play after SRC. However, concussed quarterbacks (QBs) displayed a reduced QB rating compared with controls. These results indicate that performance immediately following return from SRC may be adversely affected in certain populations and circumstances, though the overwhelming majority of players showed no decline in performance. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 27(3):187–197, 2018)
Key words: athletic performance, concussion, football, National Football League, professional sports, return to play

Scott L. Zuckerman, MD, MPH; Andrew W. Kuhn, BA; Weston Gentry, BS; Andrew Ghaly, BA; Romil D. Patel, BS; Aaron M. Yengo-Kahn, MD; Zachary Y.
Kerr, PhD, MPH; and Gary S. Solomon, PhD