Did You Know The NFL Uses AI to Save Players From Injuries


  • American football players face a high risk of injuries and a degenerative brain condition called CTE.
  • The NFL launched “Digital Athlete,” which uses AI to analyse player data and identify injury risks.
  • The technology helps create personalised training and recovery plans to improve player safety.

Injuries are quite common in American football. The century-long sport is physically demanding and inherently sees players suffer head and body impact that consequently leaves players with a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) years later. 

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that can lead to traumatic health challenges like personality changes, cognitive problems and depression.

A study conducted in 2017 showed that 110 of 111 National Football League players who played at least one regular season game and whose brains were diagnosed had CTE, meaning almost every NFL player is likely to have suffered from the condition. 

NFL Uses AI to Save Players From Health Risks

Perhaps, in light of the study, the NFL turned to artificial intelligence to help reduce injuries and improve the overall safety of players. 

In partnership with Amazon Web Services, the NFL launched “Digital Athlete” in 2022, which uses AL and ML algorithms to learn about players’ experiences on the pitch. With the information, the AI relays to NFL teams what a player needs to stay healthy, recover quickly, and perform better.

Digital Athlete reads about the players through their helmets, mouth guards and shoulder pads, which are equipped with computer imagery and sensors. It reportedly captures “real-time location, speed, and acceleration data for every player, on every play, on every inch of the field.”

AI Helps NFL Team Identify Players at High Health Risk 

With the data, the Al algorithms run millions of simulations of games and distinct in-game scenarios, helping the team identify players who are at the highest risk. The team can then form personalised injury prevention, training, and recovery programs to keep the players safe. 

“Using everything it knows so far, the Digital Athlete uses sets of player, weather, equipment, and stadium data to run infinite simulations of any play, reconstructing the conditions of how and when an injury occurred, with no risk to the athletes themselves,” the NFL said.

A neurologist at Boston University, Jesse Mez, said though the sport inherently involves hitting, the AI-powered Digital Athlete could help manage the associated health risks. “[While] the NFL is doing some things better, football is inherently about hitting and I don’t think we will ever be able to entirely mitigate risk.”

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Ibiam Wayas

Ibiam is an optimistic crypto journalist. Five years from now, he sees himself establishing a unique crypto media outlet that will breach the gap between the crypto world and the general public. He loves to associate with like-minded individuals and collaborate with them on similar projects. He spends much of his time honing his writing and critical thinking skills.

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