This is your brain on youth football

If concussions happen in youth football at roughly half of the rate of the NFL, that’s 75,000 brain injuries annually to boys (and a few girls) in elementary or middle school… Research shows the accumulation of routine blows to the head can do as much brain harm as one spectacular knockout hit—which is especially dangerous for the young, whose brain cases are not finished developing…

If you think little guys don’t hit hard enough to hurt each other’s heads, think again. Virginia Tech researcher Stefan Duma put accelerometers into the helmets of the Auburn Eagles, a youth team—ages 7 and 8—in a town near campus. He found the typical player sustained 107 head impacts per season, most in practice. (Audiences see games; the majority of hits occur during drills and scrimmages.) Acceleration for the median hit equated to 15 times the force of gravity. Duma’s tykes recorded 38 impacts of at least 40 “gees” and six impacts of 80 times the force of gravity, which is 95th percentile for NCAA football contact. [link]

 

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