As a society, we are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers inherent to high-impact sports such as football. The long term threats of concussions and other serious neurological injuries are present at every level of the sport but are especially prominent in the professional domain, where players are uncommonly strong and sizable.
It seems apparent that for the game to continue, the implementation of new health practices that can curb these risks is necessary. In this article, we examine five medical technologies that may have a major impact for NFL players.
NFL Increasing Budget for Medical Advancements
One of the biggest innovations in the NFL may simply be an increase in budget. The National Football league recently revealed a planned medical advancement overhaul, for which they’ve invested a staggering $40 million.
The NFL says that the research will focus on diagnostics and prevention. Their hope is that they will be able to use comprehensive data to provide players with better information as to when and how it safe for them to return to play/training.
The research initiative is a collaborative effort with the armed forces, and the hope is that developments will be beneficial to players, as well as the United States Army.
The Dangers of Bigger, Faster, Stronger
The NFL also uses analytics to track the frequency of injury. Data collected in the 2017 season indicates a sharp increase in injuries and negative symptoms being reported by the players themselves.
In one year, reported injuries shot up by 13%. The trend seems largely attributable to the way that players train and practice. In fact, a quarter of all injuries occurred not during official games, but during the preseason.
Though the NFL has declined to state an official cause for the leap, it does seem that practice habits are a contributing factor.
To curb the problem, they have proposed several changes to the protocol, many of which demand early reporting, and immediate medical attention for all suspected injuries.
Medical Advancements Paving the Way for the NFL
Nanotechnology has large implications for the future of healthcare in general. However, the potential for higher risk individuals (such as football players who are constantly put in the position of potential injury) is significant.
Nanotechnology allows for remote monitoring of patients. The technology is currently being used in the treatment of a variety of different conditions that include everything from back pain to Parkinson’s disease.
The strengths of this technology are several-fold and can assist both with prevention and early diagnosis.
Though still in the early stages of development, this technology is fast growing and is projected to be worth $22 billion by the year 2022.
Improved Helmets with XPF Material
Better helmets may also sharply reduce the risk of head injuries, thus serving as a means of sweeping protection against many of the more severe health concerns being reported in the NFL.
There are currently two companies hard at work trying to develop better helmets for football players at all skill levels.
The helmet companies Windpact and Auxadyne have each been awarded grants from the NFL that are to go towards enhancing their helmets with special compartments to compress air, and enhanced materials such as XPF.
In total, the NFL research grants amount to roughly a quarter of a million dollars and are a part of a broader initiative to understand how concussions occur and what can be done to prevent them. The padding systems that are currently being investigated can be implemented in existing helmets, and are expected to be a component of new products going forward.
Dreams of the Big Show: Tips to Help Younger Players Prevent Injuries
Prevention is the best way to curb the risks associated with any physical activity. There are several ways that young athletes can stay fit and prevent injury. ACL injuries are among the most common, both for male and female athletes.
To avoid this common injury, young athletes can engage in stretches and exercises that will strengthen the sensitive muscle groups.
Lunges, planks, and squats are great ways to prevent ACL injuries. But when it comes to prevention of any kind, the key is awareness. Athletes that know the risks associated with their sport are much better prepared to avoid them than those who don’t.