Hit Count® Has Come To Fruition

Prevention of concussion is a bit of an oxymoron; nothing we know about concussions can stop them from occurring while in action.  HOWEVER, there is one way to prevent concussions – limiting exposure to the collisions that create a concussion.  Moreover, research suggests – as well as observations – that being exposed to subconcussive hits can have detrimental effects on brain function.  The subconcussive hits may even predispose someone to getting a concussion later on; this is obvious if you look at the data we have collected on NFL concussion over the past four years, (305 concussions in weeks 1-9 vs. 377 concussions in weeks 10-17) greater than a 20% increase as the season wears on.

Sports Legacy Institute has announced a certification program to further the Hit Count® initiative during a press release during Super Bowl week in New York City, today (along with the SLI Hit Count White Paper – see link below press release);

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Sports Legacy Institute Launches Hit Count® Certification Program in Collaboration with Leading Concussion Experts and Head Sensor Device Companies to Make Contact Sports Safer

Using Hit Count® Certified Products to Monitor and Minimize Brain Trauma Could Eliminate 500 Million Head Impacts in Football a Year, with the Goal of Reducing Risk of Concussion and Long-Term Brain Damage

New York City – January 27, 2014 – The non-profit Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) announced a major advance in the effort to prevent concussions and brain damage in contact sports today with the launch of the Hit Count® certification program after two years of development, which was unveiled at a press conference at the 2014 Super Bowl Media Center in New York City.

Hit Count® builds on the progress that head sensor device companies have made in developing devices that can measure acceleration of the head. Current products used on the field are focused on  alerting coaches, medical professionals, and parents when a potential concussive impact occurs.

Inspired by Pitch Counts baseball, which set limits to the number of times a player throws from the  mound to prevent arm injury, Hit Count® Certified Devices will have a second function that measures and “Counts” impacts that exceed the Hit Count® Threshold, set by a committee of  leading scientists, with the goal of minimizing brain injury.

“Research using sensor devices has revealed that each year in the United States, there are over 1.5 billion impacts to the heads of youth and high school football players,” said Chris Nowinski, Founding Executive Director of SLI who launched the Hit Count® initiative in 2012 with SLI Medical Director Dr. Robert Cantu. “Most hits are unnecessary and occur in practice. By utilizing  Hit Count® certified products as a teaching tool for coaches and a behavior modification tool for athletes, we can eliminate over 500 million head impacts next season.”

Committee member Gerry Gioia, PhD, of Children’s National Medical Center and Continue reading

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SLI Press Release Primer

Coming up at 3:30 EST in New York City as part of the Super Bowl week the Sports Legacy Institute will being having an announcement about an initiative that could help with concussion issues.  It is no secret this will deal with the Hit Count ideas floated two years ago.  Below is the re-post of the February 3, 2012 announcement:

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Sports Legacy Institute did in fact release their white paper today; it simply brings to the surface something that they along with others have been saying with more frequency.  Their initiative to create a Hit Count is a bold step and on that is welcomed, especially in light of the very current research from Purdue.

You can find the article on the SLI website (here) or you can read the final white paper .pdf here; there is a very good background for this idea and the simple yet powerful citation of research already performed in this area.  Their idea is mapped out very well, again the devil will be in the details as it all begins to be sorted out;

There are technological and monetary limitations to a pure Hit Count, as Hit Count systems currently are only sold for helmeted sports, and there are costs involved.  A Hit Count is not as simple as a pitch count, where coaches only need a pencil and paper.

However, hits to the head can be accurately estimated, and methods can be developed to approximate the brain trauma exposure during games and during practice based on known variables, like position.  With these estimations, rule changes and practice guidelines can be provided to ensure few, if any, athletes exceed a proposed limit.

Little League pitch counts are limits on the number of “pitches thrown per day” and mandate up to three days of rest after exposure to elbow trauma to allow the ulnar collateral ligament to recover.

A Hit Count should explore the following guidelines:

  1. Minimum threshold to be considered a “Hit”
  2. Maximum Hits per day (all counts stratified by age)
  3. Maximum Hits per week
  4. Maximum Hits per season
  5. Maximum Hits per year
  6. When the technology is available, should there be a “Total Force” threshold derived from number of hits times mean force per hit
  7. Minimum required days of rest after a minimum brain trauma exposure

In football, a Hit Count might lead to fewer practices that involve helmets and pads or the limits on the use of high impact drills. In soccer practice, it may mean tracking headers in practice and games. This policy is probably most critical to the youngest athletes, who may be at the greatest risk, and should receive less brain trauma than older athletes.

As noted the implementation of this may be difficult to get an accurate hit count for each individual, it is not like a pitcher where they are the only one on the field performing the specific task.  However, that being said and the limitations discussed in the white paper, simply reducing the number of full contact days will reduce the overall number of hits.

Until research can identify a more specific number we must Continue reading