The NFL’s concussion protocol requires players to take a series of tests to rule out any brain injuries.
But new research suggests that blood pressure may be the single most important predictor of how a player will perform.
The NFL has banned blood pressure monitoring devices on the sidelines for players since 2014.
Players who have missed a game and are unable to make a full recovery from a concussion can be charged with a misdemeanor.
The league says it is investigating the potential of using a device to diagnose concussion.
“It is certainly possible that the blood pressure testing may not tell us what was really going on in the head,” said Dr. Scott Lichtman, a former head athletic trainer for the NFL.
“What I am saying is, I don’t think we should rely on the blood test to make the diagnosis, to make that determination.
That is just not the way to do it.
So it is definitely something that we are looking at.”
The research suggests the blood pressures that can be detected during a concussion test could be a better predictor of future outcomes.
The results of the study were published Thursday in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine analyzed data from more than 300,000 NFL players.
Researchers found that the risk of having a concussion rose significantly with blood pressure.
The risk increased even after controlling for other risk factors such as family history of the condition, previous head trauma and how well players recovered.
Blood pressure also played a role in predicting the number of concussions that were sustained by the players.
Players with higher blood pressure were less likely to suffer a concussion.
But that risk disappeared after adjusting for other factors.
Lichtman said the findings are important because there are many different factors that can influence a player’s risk for concussion.
He said the study doesn’t mean the NFL is ignoring the risk for blood pressure when determining concussion risks.
“I think we have to be mindful of all the different factors involved and we should not be afraid to take additional steps to assess these factors,” Lichtmann said.
“The fact that blood pressures were a predictor of a positive outcome does not mean that the outcome was the only factor, it means that other factors might have been at play.”
The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.