Head Acceleration Measurements in Helmet-Helmet Impacts and the Youth Population
The research presented herein is an analysis of acceleration measurements of the head during helmet-helmet impacts, where a player's helmet impacts another player's helmet, and with a youth population in football. This research is aimed at advancing current understanding of impact biomechanics for two specialized groups. The first study is an observational analysis focusing on helmet-helmet impacts, and the difference in effective mass and head acceleration measurements between the striking player and the struck player. The study involved working with football players outfitted with a sensor integrated into their helmets containing a 6 accelerometer array, capable of measuring linear accelerations and estimating angular accelerations. To evaluate helmet-helmet impacts, video analysis of past NCAA football competitions between Virginia Tech and University of North Carolina (UNC) were utilized to identify these impacts between instrumented players. A force balance was then carried out for the observed impacts and their respective acceleration measurements to compute the effective mass of the players. It was determined that the total mass recruited by the striking player was 28% to 77% more than that of the struck player. The second study focused on documenting the head impact biomechanics of a youth population. To accomplish this objective, unique accelerometer arrays, capable of measuring linear and angular accelerations, were integrated into existing youth football helmets for 7 players on a local team. Acceleration data were collected for every practice and game during the 2011 season to amass a total of 748 impacts. No instrumented player sustained a concussion during the 2011 season. Results of the study indicated impacts of greater magnitudes were more likely to occur in practices, and can be minimized by augmenting practice activities.