Each year, more than two million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury. This month is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, which shines a light on those who have sustained brain injuries, as well as those working to prevent and treat brain injuries.
Earlier this week, New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford and former NFL wide receiver Sidney Rice announced they will be donating their brains to science. Both Weatherford and Rice have suffered multiple concussions during their professional careers. Weatherford estimated that he suffered at least two concussions, while Rice, estimated that he has suffered at least 15 concussions during his career. When asked about his decision to retire, Rice told Reuters: "It was more about being able to function later on down the road, to live a healthy lifestyle. You know, be able to play with my kids."
The NFL said concussions dropped from 148 incidents in 2013 to 111 incidents in 2014. Though this is the case, brain injuries suffered when playing the sport remain a serious concern. NFL players who have sustained concussions have experienced memory loss, depression, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and some have even committed suicide. Last September, PBS reported that 76 of the 79 former players examined suffered from degenerative brain disease.
Last month it was announced that a settlement worth about $1 billion was close to being finalized which would compensate players for head injuries suffered during their careers. More than 4,500 former players had sued the NFL, accusing the league of hiding the dangers of traumatic head injuries. The Silk visualization below maps the total number of games missed due to concussions/brain injuries by team from 2012 through 2014.