A new study shows college football players suffered far more concussions during practice sessions than they did during games. According to a report in The New York Times, the authors of the new study, published in JAMA Neurology, found that 72% of the concussions they reviewed over five college football seasons happened during practice. Although preseason training accounted for about one-fifth of the time researchers studied, they found that nearly half of the concussions occurred during that period.
What the Study Found
Researchers said changes to the rules that govern the games are an important part of protecting athletes during competition. But, they said, that revisions to training activities before and during the season could lead to a substantial reduction in concussions. The biggest surprise, the study’s lead author said, was not just the way the data trended, but the extent of the data.
In an editorial, which was also published in JAMA Neurology on the same day, two other brain injury experts said the study’s findings were “shocking,” particularly considering the statistics about concussions and head impact exposure. A professional team may hold no more than 14 padded practices during the regular season.
Experts say while concussions during games are inevitable, concussions during practice are preventable because they are controlled situations where coaches have almost complete authority over the head impact exposure risks taken by players. The study concluded at the end of the 2019 season after recording more than 528,000 head impacts across five seasons where 68 of the monitored players had sustained concussions. Researchers tracked players at Air Force, Army, North Carolina, UCLA, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
Why Concussions Are Dangerous
Repeated concussions have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. Symptoms do not typically begin until years after the injuries and can include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. The disease often gets worse over time and can result in dementia. CTE has been linked to deaths including suicides of former football players.
It is reassuring to see that more concussion studies are being done at the college level. We also need to see more research at the high school level where student athletes suffer the long-term effects of concussions and traumatic brain injuries as well. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, please contact an experienced brain injury lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.