Football games come with more head hits than practices do

As play intensifies, number of impacts increases, study finds

football practice

COUNTING HITS  Concern over brain injuries from head impacts has scientists looking at the number of hits a player takes in practice versus games.


As football play gets more serious, so too do the head hits. Impact-sensing patches tucked behind the ears of 16 University of Virginia football players counted the head knocks that happened during four types of play: helmet-only practices, half-pad (or shell) practices with helmets and shoulder pads, full-pad practices and games. The number of hits increased as play became more intense, scientists report online August 4 in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

The severity of hits was reduced in helmet-only practices compared with the other categories, where it held steady. Head hits, even those not severe enough to cause concussions, can cause brain trouble.

Laura Sanders is the neuroscience writer. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Southern California.

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