Running Backs Aren't Running Fast Enough

Simbex Head Impact Telemetry System measures head impacts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Most high school football teams completed their “two-a-days” which usually includes full pads every day in the August heat. Ivy league is rethinking that notion.

A new Ivy League study that documented the nature and severity of blows to the head by position for football players has led to an Ivy League policy change: Only two full-contact practices are allowed per week.

"Ask your child’s athletic director about limiting full-contact football practices."

Joseph J. Crisco, Ph.D., professor of orthopaedics in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the bioengineering laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital, devised the algorithm utilized by Simbex’s Head Impact Telemetry System that the football players wore in their helmets to measure head impacts.

Crisco explains that the study showed different positions are receiving hits of different intensity and nature. Understanding this encourages limiting and controlling the type of head impact. Remember, there are no treatments for brain injuries and helmets aren’t effective in preventing all blows to the head.

He and his colleagues are proposing some rule changes and enforcement of current rules that will eliminate intentional hits to the head. This, along with education that will hopefully modify blocking, tackling and checking techniques may reduce the number of blows to the brain and the severity of the hits.

Crisco, formerly a college lacrosse and football player, acknowledges the value of contact sports, but feels strongly that intentional hitting with the head is poor technique and should never be a part of any sporting activity. 

The study examined 286,636 head blows experienced by 314 players during practice and games in the 2007-09 seasons. Brown University, Dartmouth College and Virginia Tech football players were the participants in this study. Researchers combined data on hit direction and head acceleration to calculate a score they call HITsp--a good predictor of concussions.

The study findings include:

  • Running backs had the highest HITsp (36.1)
  • Quarterbacks were second (34.5)
  • Linebackers were third (32.6)
  • Linemen were lowest (29.0)
  • Backers and linemen experienced the most hits

This study is published online in the Journal of Biomechanics.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 11, 2011
Last Updated:
September 13, 2011