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Running backs take hardest hits to the head, linemen take the most
Date:9/7/2011

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Thousands of college football players began competing around the nation this past week, but with the thrill of the new season comes new data on the risks of taking the field. A new study reports that running backs and quarterbacks suffer the hardest hits to the head, while linemen and linebackers are hit on the head most often. The researchers measured head blows during games and practices over three seasons at Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Virginia Tech.

The study, led by Joseph J. Crisco, professor of orthopaedics in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the bioengineering laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital, documented 286,636 head blows among 314 players in the 2007-09 seasons. Crisco said the new data on the magnitude, frequency, and location of head blows amounts to a measure of each player's head impact exposure. Ultimately it can help doctors understand the biomechanics of how blows to the head result in injury.

"This allows us to quantify what the exposure is," Crisco said. "It is the exposure that we need to build upon, so that we can then start understanding what the relationships are with acute and chronic head injury."

The study appears online in advance in the Journal of Biomechanics.

Concussions and other head injuries have become a source of elevated concern in football and other sports in recent years, with various leagues revising policies to protect players better. In part based on seeing this new data, said Robin Harris, Ivy League executive director, league officials announced earlier this year that full-contact practices would be limited to two a week.

Hits by position

The new study documents the nature of head blows by player position. Players on the three teams wore helmets equipped with wireless sensors that measured acceleration in various directions. That data allowed the team of research
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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