Thursday, October 20, 2011
Study Tracks Head Impacts in Youth Football
Virginia Tech could have a significant influence on the future of youth football helmet design. Working with a local youth football team comprised of children between the ages of six and eight, researchers used helmets equipped with sensors to track data on location, severity and frequency of head impacts.
A first-of-its-kind study by |
Since 2003, Virginia Tech has used similar technology to track data related to head impacts in its collegiate team, developing the National Impact Database to catalog the information. The data was used to develop a safety rating system for adult helmets known as the STAR Evaluation System. Using the information gathered from their ongoing youth study, researchers plan to develop a similar rating system for youth helmets.
The results of the 400 impacts recorded thus far in the youth team show that head impacts are generally less severe compared to adults, but while fewer severe impacts have been recorded overall, the hits were harder than originally thought, on par with the intensity of concussion-causing hits in adult players.
Quantifying the characteristics of head impacts in youth football will not only allow for better evaluation of current helmet effectiveness but give manufacturers of helmets the information they need to improve design. Currently, youth helmets follow the same standards as adult helmets. The findings of the study will also have applications on head protection design for other sports.