By Erick Jupp
Head injuries and their long-term effects have always been something that is in a player’s mind when they are playing the sport that is American Football.
A study relating to long-term risks of playing American Football conducted back in 2016 showed that more than 40 percent of NFL players had signs of traumatic brain injury after being tested with advanced scanning technology. (Reference – Science Daily – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160412091353.htm).
Another study showed that practising without helmets reduced the number of head injuries by 30 percent. The study found that this changed the behaviour of players as without the helmets players were more cautious when playing and not diving into tackles like they would have done if they had the helmets on. (Reference – Natajournals –http://natajournals.org/doi/abs/10.4085/1062-6050-51.1.06).
When looking at the sport in general, one of the main topics that pop up is tackling technique. This is one of the more serious aspects of the sport that leads to more long-term injuries; and if not taught properly, can lead to very severe life-changing injuries and even in some cases death.
This can either be from something as little as forgetting to keep your head up when making a tackle, to using your head in an attempt to make a big hit on someone and end up hurting yourself in the process; potentially changing your own life in the process depending on the severity.
Staffordshire Stallions centre Evan Woolgrove joined us to talk about the current debate on head injuries in American Football.
Woolgrove, throughout his time playing, has had a number of injuries in the game.
“I have had about four concussions and each one was for about three weeks,” said Woolgrove.
“In my first year, I blew my knee out. I had to have ACL reconstructive surgery which meant I couldn’t play for a year.”
Playing with the Stallions in the BUCS University American Football league, Woolgrove thinks that improper technique in compromising positions is the main contributor to these injuries in all levels of the sport.
“When going into a game, there’s always that one in one hundred chance of getting hit the wrong way which in our league is probably quite common. The proper technique isn’t up there with everything else. If I get hit in the wrong way, my knee might go or I might get another concussion.”
Head injuries are one of the main problems that players must face when playing the sport, and there have been a number of ongoing studies of the impact of concussion carried out in the USA to resolve the issue with head injuries.
Feature image (c) Roger Goodgroves