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Youth football players may get adult hits

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A study of youth football helmets has collected data on 400 head impacts experienced by youth football players, U.S. researchers say.

Stefan Duma, head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, said the current study follows the Virginia Tech study in 2003 that studied collegiate football team helmets.

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"Based on eight years of studying head impacts experienced by Virginia Tech football players, we were able to quantify exposure for adult football players relative to impact location, severity and frequency," Duma said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we cannot translate the adult exposure to the youth helmets because the impact conditions of youth football are completely unknown. To solve this problem, we are applying the same approach that we have used with the Virginia Tech football team to a youth football team."

The Auburn Eagles, a local, Montgomery County, Va., youth team consisting of boys ages 6-8 have been participating in the study since August.

The helmets of the young football players are equipped with instrumentation arrays that measure how a child's head responds to impact. Each time a player impacts his head, data are recorded and wirelessly downloaded to a computer on the sideline, Duma said.

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"While most of the impacts collected have been of very low severity; surprisingly, a few impacts are approaching impact levels associated with concussion in adult football players," the researchers said.

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