I used to love tackle football. Big for my age, I enjoyed the collision with other bodies. I never played on a team, just with a bunch of high school friends. We had no helmets or pads. We couldn’t hit each other too hard, or we’d get hurt ourselves, and we certainly never used our heads as weapons.
I wonder what would be the incidence of concussion now if that’s how people played competitive football. Studies in rugby have generally shown that helmets don’t prevent concussion in that sport.
The research on concussions is pretty mixed as it is. I covered an interesting study on this for Medscape and Healthline when I was in New Orleans in March for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual meeting. Gregory W. Stewart, chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Tulane University School of Medicine told me high school football players he studied didn’t seem to be sustaining serious injuries.
Tracking 1,289 Louisiana high school football players from 1997 to 2000, he and his colleagues found that the more time the teenagers spent on the field, the better they did on tests of their mental abilities.
The finding contradicts earlier reports of brain damage in football players at all levels of the sport. “The concussive forces may not be quite as bad as we think,” he said. Continue reading How We Can Stop Football Concussions