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article imageAmerican football, kids and head injuries

By Tim Sandle     Feb 22, 2012 in Health
Washington - A US university has undertaken the first comprehensive study of children who play American football and the associated impacts to the children’s heads. The findings have led to a call for some reforms of the way in which the sport is organized.
The Virginia Tech (the Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES)), have announced what is probably the first ever study into head impacts for young football players with data on head impacts from youth football players (children aged 7 and 8 years old). Science News Line states that the study was undertaken due to concern about the long-term consequences from repetitive concussions from the sport, especially for children.
The study looked at over 700 children who play American football. An average of 107 impacts per player were recorded. According to HULIQ, some of the blows to the head were in the order of 50, 60, 70 and 80g.
The findings of the research indicated that the majority of the high level impacts occurred during practices, rather than during competitive games. Some of these impacts were of the order experienced by adults and were probably too severe. Because of this the research findings recommend that there should be improvements in youth practice and game techniques. The findings also state that improved helmets should be developed to minimise the head impact.
According to ESPN, Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute, said the study had produced "urgently needed data" and that he was “shocked to see that these children receive levels of brain trauma comparable to college football players. At one-third to one-fourth the mass of the average college player, it appears they deliver and receive nearly the same force to the brain on each hit."
The results of the research have been published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. The manuscript includes the details of over 700 head impacts measured on 7 and 8 year old youth football players.
The University has indicated that a new study is planned, which will use a special instrument which can be fitted into the football helmet so that the head impact force can be accurately measured. This will involve football teams based in Virginia and North Carolina. The new research is captured by the acronym KIDS, which stands for Kinematics of Impact Data Set. For the study, a newly designed helmet will be used.
Quoted by the news service Eureka lead researcher, Stefan Duma, said of the new study:
"This new study for 2012 allows for dramatically increased sample size and head exposure mapping for all age groups.”
The researchers aim to record over 50,000 head impacts during 2012. Special technology which allows for brain computer modeling will be used to analyse the findings.
More about Football, american football, College football, Head injury, Kids
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