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Football study may help Virginians understand brain injuries

Football is a favorite pastime of many Virginians. From watching college or professional sports at the stadium or on television, to high school homecoming games and Pop Warner leagues, many Virginians grow up with the game. Unfortunately, football can also mean injuries, and for some that play the game, serious brain injuries. A new $3.3 million study, funded by the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, aims to study the effects of head impacts in youth football.

The study, which will focus on youths ages 7 to thirteen, will take place over a five-year period and will be the most comprehensive analysis of youth football players yet. The researchers, including Virginia Tech biomedical engineering doctorate students, are working in conjunction with the Virginia Tech athletic department.

In part, they are seeking to better understand the risks and how head injuries can result. By learning more about how concussions and brain injuries result from football, the results of the study may be able to help reduce these head injuries in youths. Additionally, they are focusing on making helmets as safe as possible for children, as the helmet that might best protect a youth may be different than one used for a college student.

Currently, youths that play in Pop Warner football leagues have significantly lower rates of injury than those that play in high school, college and professional football, but nonetheless anything that can be done to make the experience safer for children, can be beneficial. The effects of brain trauma can be life altering. This study may help Virginians understand more about these injuries, with the goal of hopefully reducing brain injuries.

Source: collegiatetimes.com, "$3.3 million, five-year study on youth football looks to revolutionize the industry," Lauren Pak, Oct. 12, 2015

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