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NFL: Higher concussion numbers in 2015 might actually be positive news

NFL: Higher concussion numbers in 2015 might actually be positive news
Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown suffered a concussion from this hit by Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict, right, in a Jan. 9 playoff game. (John Minchillo / Associated Press)

The number of concussions reported in the NFL rose dramatically in 2015, but the league says that's not necessarily a bad thing.

A total of 271 concussions were documented this season, according to a report released by the league Friday that includes data from practices and games during the preseason and regular season.

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That's a huge jump from the 206 concussions documented in 2014.

Several members of the NFL's executive medical committee said during a Friday afternoon conference call that the increase is due to a "positive culture change" when it comes to concussions, according to the Boston Globe.

The league said concussions are being increasingly self-reported by players, according to the Globe, and the league's sideline concussion protocol is being utilized more readily by team doctors.

Only 37 concussions were documented during practices this season -- that's the lowest number since at least 2012, which is as far back as the NFL report goes. Last season 50 were reported from practices.

As usual, the most common impact source for concussions was another helmet. This season's 92 concussions caused by helmet hits were the highest on the report, although 2012 followed closely with 91. There were only 58 such concussions in 2014.

Medial collateral ligament sprains also rose significantly with 170 in 2015, up from 139 in 2014. Anterior cruciate ligament sprains also were up, to 56 this season from 49 last season.

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