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Technical Brief

Head Impact Exposure in Youth Football: Middle School Ages 12–14 Years

[+] Author and Article Information
Ray W. Daniel

School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences,
Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University,
440 ICTAS Building, Stanger Street,
Blacksburg, VA 24061
e-mail: rwdaniel@vt.edu

Steven Rowson

School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences,
Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University,
440 ICTAS Building, Stanger Street,
Blacksburg, VA 24061
e-mail: srowson@vt.edu

Stefan M. Duma

School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences,
Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University,
440 ICTAS Building, Stanger Street,
Blacksburg, VA 24061
e-mail: duma@vt.edu

Manuscript received March 20, 2013; final manuscript received June 6, 2014; accepted manuscript posted June 19, 2014; published online July 3, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Barclay Morrison.

J Biomech Eng 136(9), 094501 (Jul 03, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: BIO-13-1145; doi: 10.1115/1.4027872 History: Received March 20, 2013; Revised June 06, 2014; Accepted June 19, 2014

The head impact exposure experienced by football players at the college and high school levels has been well documented; however, there are limited data regarding youth football despite its dramatically larger population. The objective of this study was to investigate head impact exposure in middle school football. Impacts were monitored using a commercially available accelerometer array installed inside the helmets of 17 players aged 12–14 years. A total of 4678 impacts were measured, with an average (±standard deviation) of 275 ± 190 impacts per player. The average of impact distributions for each player had a median impact of 22 ± 2 g and 954 ± 122 rad/s2, and a 95th percentile impact of 54 ± 9 g and 2525 ± 450 rad/s2. Similar to the head impact exposure experienced by high school and collegiate players, these data show that middle school football players experience a greater number of head impacts during games than practices. There were no significant differences between median and 95th percentile head acceleration magnitudes experienced during games and practices; however, a larger number of impacts greater than 80 g occurred during games than during practices. Impacts to the front and back of the helmet were most common. Overall, these data are similar to high school and college data that have been collected using similar methods. These data have applications toward youth football helmet design, the development of strategies designed to limit head impact exposure, and child-specific brain injury criteria.

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

CDFs of linear and rotational acceleration for the overall dataset and individual players. Distributions are heavily weighted toward low magnitude impacts.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Comparison of number of impacts and acceleration magnitudes experienced by players for games and practices. The number of impacts sustained by players during games and practices was significantly different.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Comparison of impact location distributions by level of play. Middle school players had trends similar to those seen in college [27,28] and high school football [19,20].

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