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AP Sports

February 19, 2014

Study: Concussions less prevalent in young players

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new study shows youth football players are diagnosed with fewer concussions than other injuries.

The results, obtained by The Associated Press, show 4.3 percent of players from ages 5 to 14 had concussions and that 90 percent of youth players reported no injuries.

Thirty-four percent of the more than 4,000 youth players surveyed over the last two years, complained of bruises, the most common injury. Ligament sprains came in second at 16 percent.

"The health of the millions of children who love to play football and gain its fitness and social benefits is our top priority," USA Football executive director Scott Hallenbeck said. "This new information enables us to advance player safety and strengthen standards such as those in our Heads Up Football program that today are put into practice by youth and high school programs in all 50 states."

The Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization sanctioned the two-year study to monitor injuries in youth leagues in six states from 2012 through 2013.

What it found was that the injury risk was lowest among the youngest players and steadily increased with age.

The Datalys Center, which conducted the research, said it found no children between ages 5 and 7 sustained concussions.

USA Football, which promotes the Head Up program to help reduce concussions, has said the purpose of the study was to compare the level of safety across age-only and age-weight playing standards. But the study showed no significant safety difference between those two leagues.

It also determined that the behavior of youth coaches can play a prominent role in preventing injuries.

"Based on this data, it is clear that coach behavior impacts player safety," said Dr. Thomas Dompier, president of the Datalys Center. "It is the position of the Datalys Center that coach and player education that includes proper tackling, limited contact drills and injury recognition, including concussion, should be mandatory in football and possibly other sports."

Other findings showed:

— That of the 22.4 percent of players who reported injuries, 70 percent returned to action the same day;

— of the 11.9 percent of players who missed a game or practice because of injury, 60 percent played again within seven days;

— players were more likely to sustain an injury during games than in practices;

— and that the study had no reports of catastrophic head, neck or heat-related injuries.

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