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Concussion Rates Differ by Practice Type and Equipment Worn in an Autonomy Five Collegiate Football Conference

Wasserman, Erin B., PhD*; Coberley, Mark, MS, ATC, LAT, CSCS, PES, CES FNS; Anderson, Scott, BS, ATC; Grant, Murphy, MS, ATC, PES, CES§; Hardin, James Allen, MS, PT, ATC

doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000615
Original Research: PDF Only

Objective: Evaluate the rate of concussions across Big 12 Conference football programs based on (1) equipment worn, (2) contact level, (3) preseason practice versus in-season practice versus games, and (4) mechanism of injury for concussion.

Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.

Setting: Big 12 Conference football practices and competitions.

Patients (or Participants): Big 12 Conference football teams.

Assessment of Risk Factors: All Big 12 Conference institutions collected data on practice types, equipment worn, practice and game participation, and concussions during the fall, preseasons and regular seasons, from 2013 to 2016.

Main Outcome Measures: Injury rates and injury rate ratios were reported with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: From 2013 to 2016, there were 375 concussions reported [0.98/1000 athlete exposures (AEs) (95% CI, 0.88-1.08)], an average of approximately 9 concussions per team per year. Concussion rates were highest in games (5.73/1000 AE), but among practices, concussion rates were highest in full-pad (1.18/1000 AEs) and live-contact (1.28/1000 AEs) practices. Concussion rates increased with increasing contact and equipment worn. Concussion rates were higher in the preseason than in the regular season, even when stratifying by contact level and equipment worn.

Conclusions: Practice concussion rates are highest during fully padded and live-contact practices, supporting limitations on practice contact and equipment worn to reduce the risk associated with head-impact exposure. Higher concussion rates in the preseason and during games indicate an effect of play intensity on concussion risk, and further research is needed to evaluate the direct effect of practice contact level and equipment guidelines and restrictions on concussion incidence.

*Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, Indianapolis, Indiana;

Department of Athletics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa;

Department of Athletics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma;

§Department of Athletics, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas; and

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas.

Corresponding Author: Erin B. Wasserman, PhD, Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, Inc, 401 W Michigan St, Suite 500, Indianapolis, IN 46208 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received October 04, 2017

Accepted March 08, 2018

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