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Old 10-03-2018, 01:11 PM   #1
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Kickoff rule tied to fewer concussions

A new football study has found that a small change in one area of the sport -- kickoff rules -- may lead to a significant reduction in concussion rates.

A research letter published Monday in the medical journal JAMA said that after the Ivy League athletic conference changed its rules in 2016 to move the kickoff and touchback lines in games, there was a reduction in the concussion rate among players.

Specifically, the average annual concussion rate in the college conference was 10.93 per 1,000 plays during kickoff before the rule change. It dropped to 2.04 after, the researchers found.

"What that translates to is about a 69% reduction in the rate of concussion," said Douglas Wiebe, first author of the research letter and a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

In comparison, the researchers found that for other play types, the average annual concussion rate was 2.56 before the rule change and 1.18 after, which was not a significant difference.

"To see that rate of concussion went down that much, very strongly in kickoff returns relative to other types of plays over the same period, we think it's an example of a public health intervention that was part of a large collaboration between injury epidemiologists and coaches and athletic trainers," Wiebe said.

The kickoff return play poses a risk of concussion -- a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head -- because it involves players running at speed toward each other over a long distance, the researchers noted.

In 2015, kickoffs accounted for 6% of all plays but 21% of concussions in the Ivy League conference, the researchers said, referencing data published in the journal Injury Prevention.

The next year, the rule change called for moving the kickoff line from the 35-yard line to the 40 and the touchback line from the 25-yard line to the 20.


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