Short-Term Impact of Concussion in the NHL: An Analysis of Player Longevity, Performance, and Financial Loss.
Navarro SM., Pettit RW., Haeberle HS., Frangiamore SJ., Rahman NM., Farrow LD., Schickendantz MS., Ramkumar PN.
Many studies have focused on the long-term impact of concussions in professional sports, but few have investigated short-term effects. This study examines concussion effects on individual players in the National Hockey League (NHL) by assessing career length, performance, and salary. Contracts, transactions, injury reports, and performance statistics from 2008-17 were obtained from the official NHL online publication. Players who sustained a concussion were compared with the 2008-17 non-concussed player pool. Career length was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival curves and stratification of player age, experience, and longevity. Player performance and salary changes were evaluated between the years before versus after concussion. Performance and salary changes were compared against non-concussed NHL athletes before/after their career midpoints. Of the 2194 eligible NHL players in the 9-year period, 309 sustained 399 concussions resulting in injury protocol. The probability of playing a full NHL season post-concussion was significantly decreased compared with the non-concussed pool (p < 0.05), specifically 65.0% versus 81.2% at 1 year into a player's career, 49.8% versus 67.4% at 2 years, and 14.6% versus 43.7% at 5 years. Performance was reduced at all non-goalie positions post-concussion (p < 0.05). Players scored 2.5 points/year less following a concussion. The total annualized financial impact from salary reductions after 1 concussion was $57.0 million, with a decrease of $292,000 per year in contract value per athlete. This retrospective study demonstrates that NHL concussions resulting in injury protocol activation lead to shorter career lengths, earnings reductions, and decreased performance when compared with non-concussed controls.