New study shows most youth football player concussions occur during games, not practice

June 6, 2013

Sports-related concussion has been referred to as an "epidemic" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Emergency department visits for concussions have increased 62% between 2001 and 2009. Despite the lack of data regarding the rates of concussions in youth football (children aged 8-12 years), concerns have been raised about the sport being dangerous for this age group. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers analyzed the incidence rates of concussion in youth football players in this age group and found a significantly higher incidence during games compared to practice sessions.

Anthony P. Kontos, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University studied 468 participants, 8-12 years of age, from 4 youth tackle football leagues, consisting of 18 teams. Player exposures were recorded for both games and practices. There were 11,338 total player exposures during the study period, with 20 medically-diagnosed concussions involving 20 different participants; 2 concussions occurred during practice and 18 occurred during games. Players aged 11-12 years were almost 3 times more likely to have a than players aged 8-10 years. The majority of concussions involved helmet-to-helmet contact, and 95% involved players in skilled positions (e.g., running back, quarterback, linebacker). The incidence rate during games was approximately 2 times higher than previously reported, whereas the practice rate was comparable or even lower than previous findings. Overall, players were 26 times more likely to suffer a concussion in a game than in practice.

In the US, approximately 3 million youth participate in tackle football. In light of concerns regarding concussions, Pop Warner, the largest organized league with 425,000 participants, recently limited contact practice time to reduce concussions. However, contact practice time is when proper tackling technique can be taught and reinforced in a controlled environment. According to Dr. Kontos, "Limiting contact practice in youth football may not only have little effect on reducing concussions, but may instead actually increase the incidence of concussions in games via reduced time learning proper tackling in practice." A better approach to reducing concussions in youth football may be to focus on awareness and education among administrators, coaches, parents, and players.

Explore further: U of A research leads to enhanced CFL concussion guidelines

More information: "Incidence of Sport-Related Concussion among Youth Football Players Aged 8-12 Years," by Anthony P. Kontos, PhD, R.J. Elbin, PhD, Vanessa C, Fazio-Sumrock, PhD, Scott Burkhart, PsyD, Hasani Swindell, BS, Joseph Maroon, MD, and Michael W. Collins, PhD, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.04.011

Related Stories

U of A research leads to enhanced CFL concussion guidelines

June 5, 2013
Research from the University of Alberta shows CFL players are more likely to value medical tests after concussions compared to university-level players. But the professional athletes were more apt to incorrectly believe it's ...

Concussions affect college players at high rates too, study says

July 12, 2012
As interest in concussion rates and prevention strategies at all levels continues to grow, one population that appears to have increasing head injury rates is collegiate football players. Research presented today at the American ...

Health and law expert: NFL not alone in handling concussions as 'benign' problems

January 17, 2013
More than 2,000 former football players are suing the National Football League, saying the league should have taken action earlier to deal with injuries related to concussions more seriously.

Study raises concerns that teen athletes continue to play with concussion symptoms

May 6, 2013
Despite knowing the risk of serious injury from playing football with a concussion, half of high school football players would continue to play if they had a headache stemming from an injury sustained on the field.

Pro-bowler suicide raises questions of early concussion detection

May 7, 2012
Before beginning his 20-year career playing football in the NFL, Junior Seau starred at the University of Southern California and in high school. According to Chris Hummel, a certified athletic trainer and clinical associate ...

Recommended for you

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

New comparison chart sheds light on babies' tears

July 10, 2017
A chart that enables parents and clinicians to calculate if a baby is crying more than it should in the first three months of its life has been created by a Kingston University London researcher, following a study of colic ...

Blood of SIDS infants contains high levels of serotonin

July 3, 2017
Blood samples from infants who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) had high levels of serotonin, a chemical that carries signals along and between nerves, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes ...

Is your child's 'penicillin allergy' real?

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Many children suspected of being allergic to the inexpensive, first-line antibiotic penicillin actually aren't, new research indicates.

Probiotic supplements failed to prevent babies' infections

July 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Probiotic supplements may not protect babies from catching colds or stomach bugs in day care, a new clinical trial suggests.

Starting school young can put child wellbeing at risk

June 22, 2017
New research has shown that the youngest pupils in each school year group could be at risk of worse mental health than their older classmates.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.