By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– The number of concussions in the NFL has hit a five-year high. The League says there have been 271 concussions this season. That’s up 31 percent from last season.

The numbers come as the blockbuster movie “Concussion” hits theaters and as the U.S. Congress launches an investigation into head injuries.

Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a Democrat representing Denver, sits on the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee that will conduct the probe.

“We’re really going to be looking at what the NFL has done to try to make its new proposals and its new guidelines to make sure these players aren’t suffering lifelong damages and what more can be done,” says DeGette. “We can’t just sweep this under the rug and I think that’s what was done for a very long time in the NFL.”

The move comes five years after Colorado passed a law named after a high school football player who died on the field after a concussion.

The Jake Snakenberg Act requires youth coaches to receive training in the signs of a concussion.

The NFL has also made changes, but critics say not enough – pointing to Rams quarterback Case Keenum as proof.

CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Rep. Diana DeGette (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Rep. Diana DeGette (credit: CBS)

In November, he was hit so hard he could barely get to his feet and yet stayed on the field. The League is also under fire after ESPN reported it backed out of grant to study concussions when the National Institutes Of Health awarded it to a neurologist critical of the NFL.

DeGette says, “What I’ve found is doing an oversight hearing often shines the light on a situation and often times just by doing the investigation the people we’re bringing in make their own rules and guidelines.”

After a hearing in 2009, the NFL released guidelines on a when a player can return after a head injury. Congress will also be looking at head injuries in youth sports and the military.

Broncos fans have seen three players suffer concussions this season alone.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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