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Stone Phillips, former Dateline NBC and ABC News 20/20 reporter, returns to the field with “Hard Hits, Hard Numbers: The First Study of Head Impacts in Youth Football.”
This exclusive story, released on StonePhillipsReports.com January 27th, reveals the findings of a groundbreaking Virginia Tech study, which placed instrumented helmets on 7- and 8-year-old football players. Data was collected on more than 750 hits to the head over the course of a season. With some impacts reaching magnitudes considered high even for college players, the findings provide the first quantitative assessment of the acceleration that young brains are exposed to in youth football.
Lead researcher Stefan Duma, who has been gathering data on head impacts among college players at Virginia Tech for nine seasons, describes the results of the youth study as “surprising.” “The highest impact we measured was 100g, which puts you right in the middle average of a concussion,” Duma tells Phillips.
Dr. Gunnar Brolinson, head of Virginia Tech’s Sports Medicine Department, remarks, “With the kids, when you start seeing 50, 60, 70, 80g blows, you’re just going ‘Wow!’ That is really impressive in terms of the load that’s occurring. And again, you’ve got a young athlete and a developing brain subject to those kinds of loads. So it’s concerning.”
Significantly, 29 of the top 38 hits and all impacts over 80gs occurred during practices. “This shows how important our research is. Without the sensors, we would never have known this. We can change the practices like we’ve done at college and dramatically minimize risk,” says Professor Duma.
The study, expected to be published this spring, was funded through a grant from NHTSA and conducted through the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics.
“Hard Hits, Hard Numbers” features interviews with Stefan Duma, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Gunnar Brolinson, team doctor and head of Virginia Tech Sports Medicine, John Clark, coach of the participating youth football team, and team parents.
Stone Phillips, who suffered two sports-related concussions during his high school and college years, says, “We all know how fierce the hitting is in professional, college and even high school football. For the first time, this study gives hard, sobering numbers on head impacts among the youngest players.”