Although most coaches regard helmets-only practices to pose the least risk, Mihalik found that more hard impacts were sustained in helmet-only and full-pad practices than in games.
All of the studies were accompanied by video, which led to an unintended outcome: preventing an injury. One player in Guskiewicz's study sustained two early season concussions, the first from a hit of 63.8g and, nine weeks later, one from an impact of 102g.
"We showed the coach the video and the HITS data , and he said, He's dropping his head!," Guskiewicz said.
The researchers and coaches showed the video to the player and coached him on proper technique. In the last game of the season this same player made a massive hit during a block on a kickoff return. This time, video clearly shows the player turning his head at the last second and leading with his shoulder.
The bottom line, Guskiewicz said, is that concussions are multifactorial.
"Football players receive concussions by impacts to the head that occur at a wide range of magnitudes, and clinical measures all appear to be largely independent of impact magnitude and location," Guskiewicz said.
"We need to replicate this study on a larger scale, with more players, but we believe this study is a first step toward better understanding the biomechanics of sport-related concussion and hope that it will assist athletic trainers and physicians in monitoring their players," he said.
A word about the technology
The helmets UNC used in these studies were embedded with the Head Impact Telemetry System, or HITS, from Simbex Inc. and incorporated with the Sideline Response System from Riddell.
The sensors recorded the hits in real time and sent the data to a sideline computer. When a hit was recorded i
|Contact: Clinton Colmenares|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill