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Hits to the Head Don’t Differ With Age

According to research, most head injuries sustained football players, both youth and adult, occur during practice rather than games. Research presented by the annual Biomedical Engineering Society conference, tracked about 120 players from 7- to 18-years-old over two football seasons. Each athlete wore six devices in their helmets to measure the force, position and direction of the hits. Players received brain scans before and after the season to determine any changes in brain structure. The findings were alarming. In the first of the four studies, 19 boys ages 7 and 8 were found to have absorbed 3,061 hits to the head during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. 60% of those hits occurred during practice, not games. Although none of the boys received a diagnosed concussion, they absorbed 11 hits of 8og of force or greater, a level that represents a higher risk of concussion. This study proves that some head impacts at this level are similar in magnitude to high-severity impacts at the high school and collegiate level. A second study tracked players 9- to 12-years-old and nearly 12,000 hits were recorded during both seasons. That’s an average of 240 hits per player. Again, most hits were absorbed during practice. This data suggests that rules designed to restrict player contact in practice are capable of reducing head impact exposure in youth football. Youth leagues have recently tightened rules to reduce the amount of hits children absorb. Pop Warner, the national organization made up of volunteer coaches and hundreds of thousands of children, has reduced the amount of contact players can have in practice. Learn more about Pop Warner and their efforts to reduce sports injuries on our blog! Jon Butler, the executive director of Pop Warner, had not seen the results of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest studies. But he applauded any work that accurately reflects the exposure of young players. If your child has sustained a severe head injury or is suffering from a traumatic brain injury, call us or chat with one of our live agents today. Learn more about this study.