05 Mar Is Youth Football Safe? An Analysis of Middle School Football Head Impact Data
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Robert F. Heary, M.D.
Co-Director, Reynolds Family Spine Laboratory
Director, Spine Center of New Jersey
Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Newark, New Jersey
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: This article was written to assess the relative danger versus safety of youth football. As this is a hot-button topic in the world of neurosurgery and neurology, we decided to look into this issue.
In a suburban town, middle school football players were studied. They wore helmets with accelerometers mounted inside the hemet to measure how many hits the player absorbs and the magnitude of the force behind the hits. Also, soft “guardian caps” we worn over the outside of the helmets during practices.
For all football activities (practices and games), the helmets were worn and data were accumulated. In addition, specialized coaching related to safe tackling techniques was provided.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The results showed that middle school football, from the point of view of head injuries, is likely as safe as any other sport at the middle school level. No concussions occurred over the course of an entire season studied. The number of significant blows to the head, over the course of an entire season, is very low and did not result in any head injuries.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: We feel that middle school football as played and coached in Summit, New Jersey, in 2018, was very safe and did not expose the athletes to situations which could lead to learning disabilities or CTE with a high degree of certainty. We were able to feel safe recommending to parents to allow there middle school athletes to play football in Summit, NJ.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Of course, the safety documented was with very specific equipment and training. If that is not provided, then it is not possible to extrapolate from the results of this study.
Heary RF, Majmundar N, Nagurka R. Is Youth Football Safe? An Analysis of Youth Football Head Impact Data [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jan 28]. Neurosurgery. 2020;nyz563. doi:10.1093/neuros/nyz563
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