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The Biomechanics of Interscholastic Football Impacts: 863May 29 4:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Alcaraz, Christopher A.1; Broglio, Steven P.2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 5 - p S81
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000321798.09887.66
D-59 Free Communication/Slide - Sport Biomechanics 2: May 29, 2008 3:15 PM - 5:00 PM ROOM: 106

1Carle Clinic Association, Urbana, IL. 2University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. (Sponsor: Jerrad Zimmerman, FACSM)


(No relationships reported)

The biomechanics of head impacts incurred by football athletes is not well understood at any level of sport. Understanding how the head responds to impacts received during sports participation will provide insight into injury prevention and treatment for a vast number of concussions that occur annually. This is particularly important relative to the 1.2 million high school athletes participating in football.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the location and magnitude of impacts incurred during interscholastic football participation based on session type (game vs. practice) and player position.

METHODS: During the 2007 season, helmets of a high school football team (N=32, 16.9 ± .7 yrs) were fitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS). The HITS incorporates wireless technology to link the helmet encoder with six single-axis accelerometers to a sideline computer that records the impact location and magnitude during games and practices.

RESULTS: A total of 14836 impacts were recorded, including 8861 over 45 practices and 5975 during 9 games. The mean number of impacts resulting from game participation (29.8±9.0) was significantly greater than practices (20.4±16.7), as was the resultant linear acceleration during games (24.6±16.5g) larger than during practices (22.4±14.7g). Offensive linemen (22.4 ±12.7g) and defensive skill players (21.7±15.1g) sustained less severe impacts than the defensive linemen (24.3±14.7g) and offensive skill players (23.7±18.1g). Impacts to the top of the head were the least frequent relative to other locations on the helmet, but impacts to this area resulted in significantly larger accelerations.

CONCLUSION: This exploratory investigation of impacts incurred during interscholastic football participation indicates greater number impacts with higher resultant accelerations from game participation as compared to practice. The number of impacts was not equally distributed by player position, nor was the distribution of impacts across the helmet. The highest acceleration resulted from impacts to the top of the head, potentially leading to both spinal and concussive injuries. Further studies and analysis are necessary to establish a threshold for concussion in the interscholastic athlete.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine