Sunday's Super Bowl will mark the end of a grueling season for approximately 1,700 professional football players. For hundreds of them, the off season will offer a respite from the risk of brain-addling injuries that are all too frequent during games and practices. At least, until training starts up again.
Concussions are a big deal in football at the moment — arguably an even bigger deal than the fact that this is Tom Brady's seventh Super Bowl. Researchers have made a lot of progress on diagnosing, treating and preventing concussions, but they still have questions about how concussions happen. What they discover might change the game for good.
Over the past few years, scientists have learned a lot about concussions. But before that, progress was slow. There wasn't enough funding to do the kind of research that was needed, and the NFL likely suppressed concussion research, according to investigations after the fact.
The suicide of several former players and even a movie starring Will Smith has brought an influx of funding to the field, and researchers have collected a lot of data about concussions. Experts still feel they have more questions than answers about concussions, but as they process the data they collected, that may change.