Studies of football athletes have implicated repetitive head impact exposure in the onset of cognitive and brain structural changes, even in the absence of diagnosed concussion. Those studies imply accumulating damage from successive head impacts reduces tolerance and increases risk for concussion. Support for this premise is that biomechanics of head impacts resulting in concussion are often not remarkable when compared to impacts sustained by athletes without diagnosed concussion. Accordingly, this analysis quantified repetitive head impact exposure in a cohort of 50 concussed NCAA Division I FBS college football athletes compared to controls that were matched for team and position group. The analysis quantified the number of head impacts and risk weighted exposure both on the day of injury and for the season to the date of injury. 43% of concussed athletes had the most severe head impact exposure on the day of injury compared to their matched control group and 46% of concussed athletes had the most severe head impact exposure for the season to the date of injury compared to their matched control group. When accounting for date of injury or season to date of injury, 72% of all concussed athletes had the most or second most severe head impact exposure compared to their matched control group. These trends associating cumulative head impact exposure with concussion onset were stronger for athletes that participated in a greater number of contact activities. For example, 77% of athletes that participated in ten or more days of contact activities had greater head impact exposure than their matched control group. This unique analysis provided further evidence for the role of repetitive head impact exposure as a predisposing factor for the onset of concussion. The clinical implication of these findings supports contemporary trends of limiting head impact exposure for college football athletes during practice activities in an effort to also reduce risk of concussive injury.
- Repetitive head impact exposure
- Sport-related concussion
- Traumatic brain injury
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering