football concussion

Youth Tackle Football: Study Evaluates Effects of Head Impacts Across 4 Seasons Interview with:
Sean C. Rose, MD
Child Neurology
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
The Ohio State University, Columbus What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is conflicting evidence regarding the association between repetitive head impacts during youth contact sports and worse neurocognitive outcomes.   Most research has been conducted in older adults, while the research in children is mostly limited to 1-2 sports seasons. What are the main findings? 

Response: In the longest study of its kind, we measured helmet impacts in youth tackle football players for four consecutive years of play.  The number and severity of head impacts did not correlate with changes in cognitive tests or behavioral measures.  Rather, common medical diagnoses like ADHD, anxiety, and depression, correlated with changes on several of the tests. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: The overall evidence for the neurological risks of repetitive head impacts in youth contact sports remains quite mixed, although this study provides some reassurance regarding the potential risks of 4 seasons of youth tackle football. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research should compare children with premorbid medical conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, and potentially genetic risk factors, to determine if a subset of children is more likely to have poor outcomes related to repetitive head impacts. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The investigators initiated this study and sought and received funding and equipment from Riddell (helmet manufacturer).  Riddell reviewed the technical language regarding their equipment, but had no other role in the analysis or publication of the results.


Rose SC, Yeates KO, Nguyen JT, Pizzimenti NM, Ercole PM, McCarthy MT. Exposure to Head Impacts and Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes in Youth Tackle Football Players Across 4 Seasons. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(12):e2140359. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.40359 

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Last Updated on December 31, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD