Virginia Tech released data from a study involving more than 100 youth football players, giving insight into the potential concussion rates in youth for the first time ever.
“For many years, we’ve studied adult football players and adult athletes,” Virginia Tech Professor Dr. Stefan Duma said. "This is the first time we’ve actually quantified bio-mechanical data on youth concussions — and that’s kids ranged from 9 years to 14-years-old.”
This age group is significant because they make up the largest group of football players in the country.
The study took place over five years and involved players from Virginia, North Carolina and Rhode Island. The players wore helmets with sensors that recorded how many times they were hit, at what direction and how hard to determine their risk of a concussion.
The data was measured using the equivalent of the force of gravity. The study demonstrated that children have a lower threshold than adults, worsening the impact of a blow to the head.
“Their heads are about the same size as adults, but the necks are much smaller,” Duma said. “So their ability to withstand the impact is much lower.”
The results revealed only 15 youth concussions from football occurred from the more than 100 monitored players.
Despite the lower impact threshold, youth players don’t carry the same weight as adults, which reduces the chance of a serious brain injury.
“It’s always been speculated that the youth brain has a lower tolerance, but it’s never been proven,” Duma said. “This is the first time we were able to prove it.”