Head impacts in sports can lead to brain injury even when the participant is wearing a
helmet. The forces that contribute to brain injury from sports-related head impacts are not
well understood. This study will test a new device to measure the speed of head impacts
among football players.
Each year, 50 to 70 million people in the United States participate in helmeted and
unhelmeted sports with the potential for head impacts. Such sports include football,
soccer, hockey, basketball, and boxing. Participating in these sports carries the risk of
mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). The biomechanics of head impacts that result in
concussions or other MTBIs are not well understood; however, it is thought that such impacts
correlate with head accelerations. Currently, there is no system that allows researchers to
measure head acceleration in a large number of individuals during actual play. This is a
major obstacle in understanding the mechanism of MTBI and its prevention. This study will
evaluate a newly designed miniature device that uses Head Impact Recording Technology (HIRT)
to quantify head acceleration during impact in actual sports play.
One hundred college football players will be enrolled in the study. Data from
HIRT-instrumented helmets will be collected during normal team practice and games throughout
a 5-month football season. Data collected will be assessed to determine the incidence,
magnitude, and duration of head acceleration during impacts on the sports field.
- College football players