Innovative Football Drills Reduce Head Injuries By 28 Percent
Helmetless tackling drills help promote safer game play with fewer head injuries.
In the past few years, there has been great concern about the prevalence of head injuries in American football. It turns out that even a slight head injury can cause concussion, and repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain injury over time.
At first, responses to this problem were mainly focused on promoting better diagnosis of concussion in players. This is indeed important, because when players are properly diagnosed, it prevents them from continuing to play, becoming re-injured, and worsening the damage to their brains.
However, researchers at the University of New Hampshire took a different approach, hoping to find a method for better prevention rather than better diagnosis. The key to their strategy? Making players remove their helmets for practice drills. Their efforts were recently detailed in the online version of the Journal of Athletic Training.
Helmetless Drills Change Tackling Behavior
At first, it might seem counterintuitive to think that making players remove their helmets—which are designed to shield their heads—could actually reduce head injuries. But the researchers at UNH believed that by training players using specific helmetless tackling drills, they could actually alter tackling behavior so that players suffered fewer blows to the head.
For the study, the researchers observed 50 NCAA Division I players from their school in a randomized controlled trial. All of the players were equipped with head-impact sensors to monitor the frequency, location, and acceleration of head impacts. During practice, half of the players followed a training program that included helmetless tackling drills against a dummy, an upright pad, or a teammate with a padded shield. The other half served as the control group and did not participate in any helmetless tackling drills.
At the end of the season, the group that had practiced helmetless tackling had experienced 30 percent fewer head impacts per exposure than the control group.
Football Injuries and Negligence
Unfortunately, helmetless tackling drills are still in the early phases of study and it is likely to be some time before this strategy is adopted across the country. Meanwhile, experts estimate that high school and college football players will sustain over 1,000 impacts per season with ample opportunity for head injury. If your child has suffered a brain injury due to a coach’s or school’s failure to properly diagnose a concussion and keep them out of the game, you may have a case for compensation. To learn more, contact an experienced personal injury attorney such as Fernando D. Vargas.