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Helmet and concussion researcher can comment on USA Football plans to make youth football safer

January 31, 2017

Rowson and Duma
Steven Rowson (center), an assistant professor, and Stefan Duma (right), the Harry C. Wyatt Professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, have gained national headlines for their creation of a groundbreaking safety ratings system for adult football and hockey helmets.

Stefan Duma, leader of Virginia Tech’s helmet research lab and co-author of a study published in November that examines which activities at youth football practices are associated with the highest risk of head impacts, is available to talk about USA Football’s plans to introduce rule changes in youth football in response to safety concerns. (New York Times story on USA Football’s plans)

Quoting Duma

“Eliminating kickoffs and punts make a lot of sense, because those are times where players are typically running faster, and could potentially hit each other with more force. If you take away the energy and speed, you reduce the impacts.”

The Virginia Tech study includes suggestions on how to change the structure of youth football practices to reduce players’ exposure to serious head impacts.  This was the first study examining which activities at youth football practices are associated with the highest risk of head impacts, part of a five-year project funded by the National Institutes of Health to track head impact exposure in children, the largest study yet on head impacts in youth football.  Read more in this Virginia Tech News release.

Stefan Duma background

Stefan Duma’s work on the biomechanics of head injury in football has led to new regulations and technology that reduce players’ risk for concussion and other brain injuries. In 2003, as part of his research program, the Virginia Tech football team became the first collegiate team in the country to play wearing helmets fitted with accelerometers that measure impacts. Data from hundreds of thousands of hits has yielded insights about what puts players at risk, and led to the creation of the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings, a five-star system that ranks football helmets on how well they reduce concussion risk.  Duma’s research has been covered in national outlets including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, PBS, and ESPN. 

About the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings

Since 2011, Virginia Tech researchers have been providing unbiased helmet ratings on a five-star scale, giving gives athletes, coaches, and parents the information they need to choose helmets that best reduce concussion risk.

Previous coverage:

Virginia Tech to lead national, five-year study on head impacts in youth football

Media asset

 B-roll video of Virginia Tech's Helmet research lab

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