Brain-Injury Deaths in Football Players Rising

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina and released this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that brain-injury deaths among high school football players may be on the rise.

The study concluded two dozen high school football players have died in recent years due to traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Findings of the Study on High School Football Player Brain-Related Deaths

According to USA Today, UNC has gathered data on these football players’ deaths and head injuries since 1965. This particular study focused on the years 2005-2014 and included college football player deaths.

An analysis suggests fatalities decreased in the 1990’s and started to rise again in 2010.

While there is a recent rise in deaths, overall, these kinds of deaths remain rare, and are still much lower than they used to be.

Roughly four times as many players died between 1965 and 1974 as they did during the 2005-2014 period of the study. The decline has been attributed to improved medicine, changes in game rules, and helmet standards.

It is unclear whether the recent uptick is due to more actual deaths or just better reporting

Most fatalities occurred during games and have been connected to tackling.

In line with similar studies, deaths were most prevalent in linebackers and running backs.

Safety Precautions to Minimize Risk of Death and Serious Injury

In order to minimize head injuries, he CDC recommends that schools have:

  • Training to ensure proper tackling techniques
  • Emergency action plans available and disseminated
  • Onsite medical professionals available and ready to act in emergencies during games
  • Return-to-play protocols in place to ensure safety of students with previous concussion
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