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Scientists develop new way to measure cumulative effect of head hits in football
Date:7/18/2013

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., July 18, 2013 -- Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a new way to measure the cumulative effect of impacts to the head incurred by football players.

The metric, called Risk Weighted Cumulative Exposure (RWE), can capture players' exposure to the risk of concussion over the course of a football season by measuring the frequency and magnitude of all impacts, said senior author of the study Joel Stitzel, Ph.D., chair of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist and associate head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

The study is published in the current online edition of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

Based on data gathered throughout a season of high school football games and practices, the researchers used RWE to measure the cumulative risk of injury due to linear and rotational acceleration separately, as well as the combined probability of injury associated with both.

"This metric gives us a way to look at a large number of players and the hits they've incurred while playing football," Stitzel said. "We know that young players are constantly experiencing low-level hits that don't cause visible injury, but there hasn't been a good way to measure the associated risk of concussion."

Concussion is the most common sports-related head injury, with football players having the highest rate among high school athletes, according to the study. It is estimated that nearly 1.1 million students play high school football in the United States. However, research on the biomechanics of football-related head impacts traditionally has concentrated on the collegiate level rather than on the high school level.

With such a large number of players in the sport, it is critical to understand the risk associated with different levels of impact and accurately estimate cumulative concussion risk over the course of a practice, game, season or
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Contact: Marguerite Beck
marbeck@wakehealth.edu
336-716-2415
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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