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NEW CDC Study Aims to Improve Concussion Safety for Youth Football Players

Sep 16, 2016

Getting answers for parents, coaches, leagues, and policymakers about concussion safety in sports is a priority area for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Injury Center. As a result, the CDC is announcing the start of a new study that will entail a rigorous evaluation of the risks of tackling in youth football.

Awarded to Mathematica Policy Research for about $650,000, the 27-month project will include measurement of head impacts and concussion rates in 40 youth football league teams. The study will include a mixed-methods research design with 3 components – surveillance, a randomized controlled trial, and a qualitative study – from which a better understanding of the risks of tackling in youth football will be gained. The following objectives will be addressed with the project:

  • Gather data on the cumulative number of head impacts, the force of impacts, and reported concussions incurred by youth football players over the course of a football season.
  • Assess how head impacts and reported concussions vary by program type (contract versus non-contact), different skill levels, and player age.
  • Assess the effect of shoulder-style tackling on head impacts incurred over the course of a football season and whether the effect differs by player age and skill level.
  • Examine parents’ and coaches’ perceptions of the risks and benefits of alternative rules, practices, policies, and player/coaching behaviors on potential for injury among youth participants in football.
  • Examine the experiences of coaches who implement shoulder-style tackling.

CDC is making strides to advance data-driven solutions to protect young athletes from concussion. Learn more about other critical projects underway, such as the proposed National Concussion Surveillance System on the CDC website.