Is youth football safe? An analysis of youth football head impact data

Robert F. Heary, Neil Majmundar, Roxanne Nagurka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The issue of whether sports-related head trauma at the youth level can result in long-term sequelae that may negatively impact the participant has been widely debated. OBJECTIVE: To investigate head impacts in the Summit Youth Football League equipped with helmets using the Riddell InSite impact monitoring system. The monitoring system allowed for analysis of the number of impacts and severity of impacts by player. METHODS: Data were obtained for all 20 members of the youth football team. Impacts were recorded as “low,” “medium,” and “high” intensity. RESULTS: All 20 players participated in all practices and games throughout the season. No player suffered a concussion throughout the entire season. There were 817 recorded impacts throughout the season. This was an average of 41 impacts per player over the course of the season and fewer than 4 impacts per player per week. Only one impact registered as “high.” CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that there are few head impacts over the course of an entire season at the middle school level. Guardian Caps, safe tackling techniques, and the age of participants may have contributed to the very low number of impacts recorded and the complete lack of injuries. This study only provides data demonstrating that youth football, when Guardian Caps and safe tackling techniques are enforced, does not appear to result in significant head impacts causing immediate head injuries. This study cannot comment on the safety of playing football at the collegiate or professional level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-382
Number of pages6
JournalNeurosurgery
Volume87
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

Keywords

  • CTE
  • Concussion
  • Head injury
  • Youth football

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