Concussions and Cold Weather: Do Plunging Temperatures Make Head Injuries More Likely?

By Sean Breslin
Published: January 31, 2014

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

In this Oct. 5, 2008 photo, then-Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards suffers a concussion after getting hit by Adrian Wilson of the Arizona Cardinals.

As temperatures for the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII are expected to hover near the coldest ever recorded for a Super Bowl, each bone-crushing hit will sting a little more, but that doesn't necessarily mean concussions are more likely.

The final game of the 2013 season comes this Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks play the Denver Broncos in New Jersey – a season which yielded 13 percent fewer concussions than in 2012, according to a New York Times report.

(MORE: Check the Official Super Bowl XLVIII Forecast)

Even with the decline in concussions, there were still 228 sustained in the 2013 preseason and regular season, slightly fewer than one per game. With the Super Bowl kicking off Sunday night, Dr. Andrew Naidech, M.D. of Neurology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, says no evidence has been found to suggest colder weather creates a higher risk for a concussion.

"I was unable to find any data, and in talking with my colleagues, no one's aware of any association between cold weather and concussions," he told weather.com.

While it might be impossible to eliminate head injuries in a sport where helmet-to-helmet hits occur with relative frequency, the NFL hopes to continue the downward trend of concussions. Still, more than 40,000 sport-related concussions occur in high school sports every year, illustrating the uphill battle that remains in making sports safer for younger athletes.

(MORE: The 5 Worst Super Bowls, NFL Title Games)

With advancements in sports technology keeping players safer every day, Naidech is optimistic about the future of football safety and reducing the already declining number of concussions in the NFL.

"There are surely advancements in technology that can be made to make concussions less likely to happen and less severe when they do."

MORE: Snowy NFL Games of 2013

(Left to right) Tackle Michael Oher, guard Marshal Yanda and center Gino Gradkowski of the Baltimore Ravens stand on the snow-covered field during the national anthem before playing the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 8, 2013 in Baltimore, Md. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

 

 


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