Children who play football may take more hits to the head than originally thought, study finds – ABC News

A new study has found that children who play youth football may take more high-magnitude hits to the head than originally thought.

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) mounted censors on young football players’ helmets during 25 to 30 practices and seven games, and found that many players experienced high-magnitude head impacts, defined as impacts greater than 40 times the force of gravity.

Researchers found that of the 7,590 head impacts that were recorded, 8 percent were considered high-magnitude head impacts.

PHOTO: Football players get ready at line of scrimmage in this undated stock image.Erik Isakson/Tetra images via Getty Images
Football players get ready at line of scrimmage in this undated stock image.

The study, which looked at 45 football players ages 9 through 12, found that high-magnitude head impacts were also most likely experienced in those playing the positions of quarterback, running back and linebacker.

While researchers looked closely at head impact force, they did not assess clinical outcomes of the head impact.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, comes at a time when parental concerns over the safety of youth football have mounted.

PHOTO: A young football player passes a ball in this undated stock image.Getty Images
A young football player passes a ball in this undated stock image.

Since 2009, the number of children ages 6 through 12 who play tackle football has gone down by nearly 20 percent, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

The researchers at Virginia Tech found that youth players also experienced a higher rate of high-magnitude head impacts while playing in an actual game, versus at practice.

Researchers said they hope the study brings a better understanding of what causes concussions in children, in order to help prevent injury and to eliminate certain drills and plays that are high risks to young players.

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