High School Football Study Shows More Head Risks

High School Football: Players Aren’t Tackling Safely Enough, According To New Study

High school football players are not tackling safely enough, according to a new study.

The findings, reported in USA Today, are more likely to lose consciousness after concussions if they get hit at the top of the head compared to the sides, back, or front. Furthermore, close to 50 percent of all concussions in football occur from player-to-player collisions on the front of the head.

More from the news site:

“The findings support a growing movement for safer tackling. Football players are more likely to get hit at the top of the head if they tackle with their heads down, according to the study.

“‘Something as simple as lifting their heads up when they’re tackling can prevent fatal and catastrophic injuries,’ said study lead author Zachary Kerr, director of the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program at Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention in Indianapolis.

“Experts are paying more attention to concussions at all levels of football because of increasing awareness about the risks of permanent brain injury.

“Concussions often occur in contact sports like football where blows to the head are likely. They can cause headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness and other symptoms.”

The original publication of the study was in the August 11 edition of the journal Pediatrics. Researchers reviewed over 2,500 reports of high school football concussions in the U.S. for the 2008-09 and 2012-13 school years. One hundred percent resulted from player-to-player collisions, and about 60 percent of those occurred during games with the rest in practice.

Forty-five percent of concussions occurred from injuries to the front of the head. Impacts to the side of the head (22 percent), back of the head (6 percent), and top of the head (6 percent) accounted for the remainder.

Location of the impact did not affect symptoms or prognosis for any of the high school football players. “Overall, they were likely to suffer headaches (93 percent), dizziness and unsteadiness (76 percent), difficulty concentrating (61 percent) and confusion and disorientation (52 percent),” according to USA Today.

Athletes struck at the top of the head were more likely to be knocked unconscious (8 percent) compared to those hit elsewhere on the head (3.5 percent lost consciousness).

More from the report:

“Kerr said it’s clear that injuries from top-of-the-head impacts are usually more severe than others.

“Loss of consciousness boosts the risk that recovery will take longer, said Steven Broglio, director of the NeuroSport Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“About 90 percent of athletes will recover from concussions in about two weeks when they’re treated correctly, he said. But loss of consciousness greatly increases the chance these athletes will be in the 2 percent to 3 percent whose symptoms last longer than six weeks.

“‘Players should always look at what they are hitting and avoid using their head as the initial point of contact with their opponent,’ Broglio said. ‘In addition to increased concussion risk, head-down tackling and hitting with the top of the helmet are a mechanism for neck fracture.'”

Do the findings of this latest high school football study make you want to rethink allowing your child to play?

[Image via Herbert Kratky / Shutterstock.com]