Characterization of head impacts, neurocognitive testing, and helmet force attenuation in collegiate football players
In an effort to understand the effect of sub-concussive blows, a collegiate football team was monitored during the course of single football season with a helmet telemetry system and pre-season and post-season neurocognitive testing. Also a selected group of players had their helmets tested at the conclusion of the season for force attenuation properties. Relationships between the number of head impacts and changes in neurocognitive test scores and the helmet's force attenuation properties were evaluated. The number of head impacts (cumulative number of head impacts, average number of head impacts per practice, and average number of head impacts per session) was found to be statistically different between linemen and skill players except in the metric of the number of head impacts per game. The location of the head impacts was also statistically different between the positions but no different was noted for the metrics of magnitude. For neurocognitive tests there were no differences between the pre-season and post-season scores with and without the consideration of position. Changes in neurocognitive test scores similarly did not correlate with the number of head impacts sustained throughout the season. Finally, the used helmets were compared to new helmets of the same year and model. The used helmets were found to better attenuate force than their new counterparts. Furthermore, the force attenuation abilities of the used helmets did not correlate with the cumulative number of head impacts. While sub-concussive head impacts are still of serious concern they do not appear to have any direct correlation to neurocognitive test scores during the season or helmet attenuation function.
Leverenz, Purdue University.
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