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Head Impact Exposure in Youth Football: Elementary School Ages 7-8 Years and the Effect of Returning Players

Young, Tyler J. BS; Daniel, Ray W. MS; Rowson, Steven PhD; Duma, Stefan M. PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: September 2014 - Volume 24 - Issue 5 - p 416–421
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000055
Original Research

Objective: To provide data describing the head impact exposure of 7- to 8-year-old football players.

Design: Head impact data were collected from 19 players over the course of 2 seasons using helmet-mounted accelerometer arrays.

Setting: Data were collected from 2 youth football teams in Blacksburg, VA, spanning 2 seasons.

Participants: A total of 19 youth football players aged 7-8 years.

Independent Variables: Type of session (practice or game) and the player's experience.

Main Outcome Measures: Head impact frequency, acceleration magnitude, and impact location for games, practices, and the season as a whole were measured.

Results: The average instrumented player sustained 9 ± 6 impacts per practice, 11 ± 11 impacts per game, and 161 ± 111 impacts per season. The average instrumented player had a median impact of 16 ± 2 g and 686 ± 169 rad/s2 and a 95th percentile impact of 38 ± 13 g and 2052 ± 664 rad/s2 throughout a season. Impacts of 40 g or greater tended to occur more frequently in practices than in games, and practices had a significantly higher 95th percentile impact magnitude than games (P = 0.023). Returning players had significantly more impacts than first time players (P = 0.007).

Conclusions: These data are a further step toward developing effective strategies to reduce the incidence of concussion in youth football and have applications toward youth-specific football helmet designs.

School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Virginia Tech—Wake Forest University, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Corresponding Author: Steven Rowson, PhD, 440 Kelly Hall, 325 Stanger St (MC 0194), Blacksburg, VA 24061 (srowson@vt.edu).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received March 22, 2013

Accepted October 08, 2013

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins