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Archive for June 6, 2007

June 6, 2007 — Inside the Journal of Athletic Training, part 3: Football

Third of 14 parts.

Today, we look at the Journal of Athletic Training’s study into 15 years’ worth of football injuries.

Now, you might think that, with the severe paralysis, debilitating ailments, and even the high-profile deaths of football players the last 20 years, that there would be calls for major changes in the way the sport is played and administered.

But this study fails to make even the most elementary recommendations in how to make the sport safer: the elimination of all blocking below the waist and the elimination of full-contact hitting, mandating that a tackle be made by wrapping up and dragging down an opponent, similar to rugby.


Main findings: Injuries in games is nine times higher than in practice. The five top reported injuries are to the upper leg, the acromioclavicular joint at the top of the shoulder, the knee, the ankle, and concussions.

Recommendations: Further study of injuries, plus studying how new equipment may change injury rates. Overall, these kinds of studies need to come before the implementation of new equipment and the institution of new playing rules.

What the study directors missed: Steroid use. Much of the data comes from years when players used performance-enhancing substances with no testing, controls or punishments on the part of the NCAA.

What the study directors underreported: Long-term concussion surveys. Of course, it must be said that there is a chart discussing concussions by position, and that the lighter one person is in a contact situation, the more likely he is to receive a concussion. That, however, does not square with 2007 literature on NFL linemen, concussions, and clinical depression.

Equipment recommendations made: Improvements in enhanced-force dissipation equipment, such as dense foam padding and flak jackets.

Equipment recommendations not made: Face shields.