Heads Above the Rest: Examining Head impacts in Canadian High School Football

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This thesis contains three projects focused on concussion and head impacts in tackle football. First, is a systematic review and meta-analysis. Objective: To examine youth football concussion and head impact rates, modifiable risk factors, and football-specific prevention strategies. Methods: Nine databases were searched. Two authors (with a third to resolve disagreements) completed study screening and assessment of bias. Results: Concussion rates for high school (ages 13-19) and minor football (ages 5-15) were 0.78/1000 athlete exposures and 1.15/1000 athlete exposures. Of prevention strategies, contact training and contact restrictions had the strongest evidence supporting their effectiveness. Conclusions: The high rates of concussion and head impacts affirm the need for prevention strategies in youth football. The second manuscript investigated head impact rates in Canadian high school football. Objective: To describe head impact rates in Canadian high school football. Methods: Games (n=14) involving two teams were recorded during the 2019 season and analyzed to identify head impacts. Results: The offense experienced head impacts at a higher rate than the kicking and receiving units, but not the defense. Conclusion: To help reduce the head impact rates in this cohort, contact training emphasizing the removal of the head from contact may be beneficial. The third manuscript evaluated a score-based running time rule. Objective: To describe the effect of the score-based running time rule on the rates of head impacts in Canadian high school football. Methods: Video analysis was used to identify head impacts in games (n=14) involving two teams that were followed during the 2019 football season. Results: The rates of head impacts in games where running time came into effect were lower for the offense and defense, but not special team units (kicking team and receiving team). Conclusions: The score-based running time rule was associated with lower head impact rates for two of four team units.
Head Impact, Concussion, Football, Tackle Football, Video Analysis, Prevention, Primary Prevention, Youth
Pankow, M. P. (2021). Heads Above the Rest: Examining Head impacts in Canadian High School Football (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.