Sports Medicine

Study finds football concussions drop after WIAA practice changes, could help other sports

By Jennifer Kliese

MADISON (WKOW) — UW-Madison researchers have found a statewide effort to keep high school football players safer seems to be paying off.

A team of researchers in the School of Medicine and Public Health’s department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation looked at data on concussions since 2012 at 103 high schools and sports venues in Wisconsin, finding concussions during practice cut in half starting with the 2014 season. That’s when the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, or WIAA, implemented new rules, including shorter practices, more recovery time and efforts to better adapt to hot weather.

Tim McGuine, senior scientist with UW, says the findings indicate the rule change helped, though practice concussions only make up about 30 percent of all head injuries and the rate of concussions during games did not change.

“We’ve known intuitively for some time, for someone who’s been on the sidelines for 30 years, the more practices you have at full-speed– basketball, soccer, hockey, football– the more injuries you have. All sports,” McGuine tells 27 News. “If you do something full-speed, you have more collisions, more contact, you have more injuries and it’s not just concussions.”

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