Due to the increase of concussions suffered by football players, the NFL has had to get serious about helmet to helmet collisions.Â New rule changes, designed to decrease the severity and number of head shots, have come into effect for the 2011-2012 season.
Coincidentally, a new study looking at head blows suffered by football players has been published just as the new NFL season is about to start.
In this study,Â Â researchers from Brown University found that running backs and quarterbacks suffer the hardest hits to the head, while linemen and linebackers are hit on the head most often.
The study documented 286,636 head blows among 314 NCAA football players in the 2007-09 seasons. By analyzing the magnitude, frequency, and location of head blows suffered during a football game, the researchers were able to quantify each playerâ€™s head impact exposure.
Using the data collected by wireless sensors installed in football helmets, the researchers generated a composite score of exposure called HITsp that they feel is a good predictor of concussion.
On average, running backs had the highest HITsp, 36.1, followed by quarterbacks with 34.5 and linebackers at 32.6. Offensive and defensive linemen had the lowest HITsp numbers, with 29.0 and 28.9 respectively, but along with linebackers, they were hit on the head most often.
This is important because doctors worry not only about hit severity, but also hit frequency, with repeated head impacts causing â€œsubconcussiveâ€ neurological damage over time.