A study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that a rule limiting the amount of full-contact practice led to a 57 percent decrease in the number of concussions among high school football players in Wisconsin.
According to TV station WKOW, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association in 2014 imposed a rule which prohibited teams from engaging in full-contact practices in the first week of the preseason, and imposed limits on full-contact practices in subsequent weeks.
The study looked at the concussion rate among high school football players in the two years prior to the rule change, and compared it to the rate the year after the change. The results found that concussions occurred at a rate of 86 per thousand prior to the change, but fell to just 15 per thousand afterward.
“Our analysis shows that targeted rule changes can have a beneficial effect on lowering the risk for concussions,” Tim McGuine of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health and one of the study’s authors told WKOW. “It’s imperative that we identify strategies that keep our student-athletes safe while still maintaining the integrity of the game, and this particular measure appears to do both.”
Interestingly, there was no change in concussion rate only counting those sustained in games, a fact that contradicts what some opponents of the rule change feared, that reduced full-contact practice would lead to poor technique and more injuries.