Evaluation of Football Safety Techniques Utilizing Biomechanical Measurements
In recent years, concussions and the effect this injury has on the human brain has been an area of concern for many people involved in sports. And perhaps rightfully so, as between 1.6 and 3.8 million people each year sustain a sports-related concussion in the United States. In the past, concussions have been solely linked to transient symptoms; however, recent research suggests that the injury can also result in long term neurocognitive impairment. Thus, there is much needed research to better understand concussions and assist in the development of safety techniques that will reduce the occurrence of such injury. Participants of youth football are at an extreme disadvantage as very little research has been conducted on this population. The research presented in this dissertation attempts to characterize head impact exposure of a variable subgroup of youth football, middle school football, in order to better understand concussions in youth. In addition to better understanding concussions, it is imperative that correct laboratory techniques are developed to accurately simulate realistic head impacts. This dissertation also presents results from the evaluation of current testing procedures that can be used for laboratory testing of sports equipment and simulation of actual field impacts. Evaluation of these techniques will further validate their ability to act as methods for both safety and research in sports injury. Thus, the overall goal of this dissertation is to provide results that will both further understanding of concussions and evaluate the realistic performance of laboratory techniques, influencing informed decisions to reduce the risk of concussions.